NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Fergus Ewing vows to protect Scottish fishing industry

Peterhead fish market
Image caption Fergus Ewing was at Peterhead fish market on Monday morning

Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing has told fishermen he is determined to protect EU markets and funding.

Mr Ewing, speaking as he toured Peterhead fish market, also confirmed a £5m investment to "modernise and enhance" Peterhead port - Europe's largest fishing port.

The Scottish Fishermen's Federation has called for a withdrawal from EU common fishery deals after the Brexit vote.

Mr Ewing said he was working for the best deal possible for fishermen.

'Mainstay of economy'

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I work as the Scottish government minister for fishing very closely with Bertie (Armstrong) from the SFF.

"We have had several formal meetings and I think we have got a shared objective of getting the best possible deal for the Scottish fishing industry.

"It's a mainstay of the Scottish economy.

Image caption Peterhead fish market is to be expanded

"My objective is to champion the Scottish fishing interests, recognising they have benefited in some respects from the EU.

"That £5m [investment in Peterhead port] will allow them to expand the floorspace by 50%."

He added: "I want to maximise control in Scotland. We respect that a great amount of fishermen voted to leave."

'Same side'

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, told BBC Scotland: "As the minister has said, we are all on the same side here, we want the same objective, which is the best deal possible for Scots fishing.

"We are trying to focus on the opportunity.

"We have just seen a beautifully-full market of wonderful fish. If Brexit is played correctly, there will be more of that.

"The industry turns on sustainable resource, and we're hoping that Brexit will allow us considerably more.

"We must shoot for the best deal. Fishing must not be sold down the river."

The annual fisheries negotiations will be held in Brussels on 12 December.

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