Mairi Gougeon: "Brexit has significantly impacted Scotland’s marine sector."

Independent Scotland ‘would be better for aquaculture’

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The aquaculture sector would benefit from Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and joining the European Union as an independent nation, the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said today.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) minister was speaking ahead of the publication tomorrow of “Our Marine Sector in an Independent Scotland”, a paper which she said will set out proposals for how the marine sector would thrive and grow in an independent Scotland.

It follows a paper setting out the benefits of an independent Scotland joining the EU, which was published on Friday.


“Brexit has significantly impacted Scotland’s marine sector, creating major barriers to trade, reducing access to labour and a loss of fishing opportunities for parts of our fleet. As an independent EU Member State, Scotland would for the first time be able to negotiate for its own priorities at the heart of Europe,” said Gougeon.

“I look forward to publishing our paper and setting out how by independence can help to address the current challenges in our marine sector and benefit our people, communities, economy and environment.”

Although it is apolitical, trade body Salmon Scotland has criticised Brexit, which has increased administration costs and the time it takes to export salmon to France and has also contributed to labour shortages.

£3m extra costs

Salmon Scotland’s member companies have faced an extra £3 million in export costs each year since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.

The organisation has repeatedly urged the UK government to introduce a digital Export Health Certificate (EHC) system which would be quicker and cheaper than the existing paper certificates.

The Scottish Government, meanwhile, must rebuild bridges with the aquaculture and fishing communities following Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan’s proposal to make 10% of Scotland’s seas Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which would have excluded both sectors.

The proposal, which was the result of the Bute House power sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party, was scrapped after more than three-quarters of substantive responses to a consultation opposed HPMAs.