A new paper published by Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon makes the claim that Scotland’s marine environment could be better protected and new green jobs could be generated.
The Our Marine Sector in an Independent Scotland paper sets out the benefits of rejoining the EU for the marine sector and the industries and communities it supports, including regaining access to the EU single market for seafood products, enjoying the benefits of free movement and negotiating an equitable share of EU funding.
It also sets out that the Scottish Government could negotiate for its own interests in international marine forums, especially for fishing, without reliance on the UK Government to do so on its behalf.
Mairi Gougeon also highlights the opportunities for an independent Scotland to generate enough cheap, green electricity to power the economy as well as supporting thousands of jobs for people in the offshore wind supply chain; make coastal and island communities more prosperous and encourage population growth, attracting more people to Scotland to live and work.
‘This paper sets out in detail how independence, and having an independent Scottish voice in Europe, will benefit our vital Scottish marine sector, the people and businesses that work in it and the coastal and island communities who depend on it,’ Mairi Gougeon said.
‘Our seas, coasts and islands are an important part of our national identity and way of life. Our marine industries – and the rich and diverse marine environment many of them depend on – play a critical role in creating and sustaining jobs and opportunities in our coastal and island communities, and across the supply chain.’
She commented that Scotland is a proud maritime nation, and that Scottish vessels account for over 60% of the value and tonnage of all landings by UK fishing vessels, and Scottish-farmed Atlantic salmon is the UK’s biggest single food export.
‘Our marine sector also has significant potential, waiting to be unlocked to benefit our people, communities, economy and environment. But that potential can only be realised with the full powers of independence, giving the sector the support it needs and the prioritisation it deserves,’ she said.
‘The marine economy currently faces many challenges, many arising from Brexit which has adversely impacted on Scotland’s coastal and island communities, businesses and industries. We lost freedom of movement and got new barriers to seafood trade. It also meant a loss of fishing opportunities for parts of Scotland’s fleet. An independent Scotland could re-join the EU, gaining access to the biggest single market in the world and reclaiming those benefits. The Scottish Government believes that independence is an opportunity to address the current challenges and to put the future of Scotland’s seas in Scotland’s hands.’