Island politicians call for meeting with UK Fisheries Minister Eustace

A fishing boat works the waters off the island of Eigg. Picture: Iain Ferguson. FISHING-BOAT-OFF-EIGG_iain-ferguson.jpg
A fishing boat works the waters off the island of Eigg. Picture: Iain Ferguson. FISHING-BOAT-OFF-EIGG_iain-ferguson.jpg

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The UK’s fisheries minister has been asked to meet island fishermen to hear first-hand about the crisis their industry is facing.

The EU is an important export market for island produce, particularly seafood which is worth millions of pounds to the local economy.

Since the UK left the EU single market and customs union on January 1, exports have been disrupted by a range of regulatory issues and delays at the border.

These issues have heaped more pressure on fishing businesses already trying to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result,  Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and MP Angus MacNeil have written to UK Government Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP to ask him to meet island fishermen.

Mr Allan said the current crisis facing the fishing industry was really concerning: ‘The last few weeks have seen prices collapse, produce left behind and vessels told not to go out to sea.’

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

‘The UK Government has labelled these issues as ‘teething problems’. The reality is that they are a direct consequence of the deal it struck with the EU – to the detriment of the fishing industry.

‘While the announcement of a compensation scheme for seafood exporters is welcome, the level of funding will be a drop in the ocean compared to the damage done and it doesn’t remove the Brexit red tape exporters now have to face.

‘UK Government ministers should face up to the consequences of their actions and hear directly from fishermen in the Western Isles about what has happened in the last few weeks.’

Mr MacNeil added: ‘This is a problem of Westminster and the Brexiteers’ making and it is for Westminster and the Brexiteers to sort.’

Angus Brendan MacNeil.
Island MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.