Ian Duncan MEP - Richard Lochhead at odds with SNP MEPs over Scottish Fishing Industry
In a letter sent to Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Ian Duncan accuses Mr Lochhead of being disingenuous in his remarks regarding the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund. Pointing out that Scotland’s allocation from the fund rose during the recent negotiations Mr Duncan observes:
"Having just gone through a Euro-election in which your candidates repeatedly said that only the SNP stands up for Scottish interests it is worth noting that during the two-year negotiations on the EMFF, your MEPs made no comments, raised no issues, lodged no criticisms and made no attempt to amend the funding criteria of the regulation.This despite the fact that one of your MEPs sits as a full member of the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee, and enjoyed unrivalled access to the drafting of the EMFF. Indeed your two MEPs voted for the EMFF."
Mr Duncan also accuses Mr Lochhead of playing politics with the Scottish Fishing industry:
"Once the regulation was agreed, funding is disbursed by formula. To suggest now that the fund should be allocated primarily based upon landings smells fishy. It is possible to criticise the EMFF funding criteria, it is not perfect, but you and your party chose not to do so when you had the opportunity to amend it. Rather you have waited until now to blame the UK government for alleged failings that your own MEPs supported at the time. Anyone would think there was a Referendum in the offing."
Mr Duncan has also written to Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, refuting his accusation that Conservative politicians in any way did not support the industry:
"You may wish to note that your party in Brussels sits with the Green Party in the Green/European Free Alliance. The majority of your Group voted against the EMFF, believing that the fund supported practices that, 'are in direct conflict with the goal of more sustainable fisheries'. The greatest threat to the existence of the EMFF at its birth was your own political group in Brussels."
Jamie McGrigor MSP, who asked a question in the Scottish Parliament of Richard Lochhead on the 12th of June, commented:
"As I made clear in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Conservatives believe that those fishing communities in Scotland which are struggling should have access to the EMFF whose purpose is to support them. We welcome the fact that Scotland’s allocation of this funding is increasing.
"The SNP should stop trying to misrepresent our position and instead focus on working constructively with fishermen and the UK government to further improve fisheries policy."
In a separate letter, Julie Girling MEP for South West England has written to the editor of Fishing News regarding Mr Lochhead’s comments:
"For the SNP to state that the UK did not fight hard enough for a fair allocation for Scotland shows a fundamental misunderstanding (or deliberate ignorance) of how the funds were actually allocated. As Dr Duncan rightly states, national allocations under the EMFF were calculated using a formula taking into account a number of objective indicators including employment in the sector, the proportion of small scale vessels, and the level of production. Criticism of this formula is legitimate, it is not perfect, but to state that the UK's small share is a direct result of its poor negotiating efforts is disingenuous."
Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland and was formerly the Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.