Isles SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is standing up for Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s fishermen in Parliament and warns the Tories all eyes are on them as they negotiate the future of the fishing industry.
In a speech during the Fisheries Bill debate yesterday (Wednesday), he outlined the many issues facing west coast fishermen as highlighted to him by the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association.
These included fishing quotas; seal management; potential for a blue fin tuna fishery and spurdog by catch. He also stressed that the UK Government could take action to assist the industry with crew shortages right now but were choosing not to do so.
He is also calling on the House of Commons’ Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) to consider holding an inquiry into fishing quotas and has written to Chair Neil Parish MP on this matter.
He said: “The Tories are trying to portray themselves as the saviours of fishing but the truth is it is not a priority for them and never has been. There is a real responsibility for this Government who are now treading this path.”
He added: “I think it would be worthwhile to have an EFRA committee inquiry into who holds quota, where they got quota from, where quota might be better distributed, ideas of community quotas, and geographical share of quotas.
“As recently highlighted in media reports from research by NGO’s, quota ownership is an issue of interest. I have suggested that the Committee could investigate loss of rights that were once historically held for example in the west coast of Scotland and is now in the hands of a few big fishing concerns out with the area.”
He said consideration should be given to the full reorganisation of fishing quota particularly in pelagic sectors, perhaps adopting the principle which has been introduced in the Faroes, that all fish in Faroese waters are the property of the people of the Faroes.