Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today written to the Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, calling for her to meet with fishing industry representatives, either virtually or in the isles, following the post-Brexit fisheries debate held earlier this month. Mr Carmichael made the call while holding constituency surgeries in Whalsay in Shetland, a major fishing hub which has been significantly impacted by post-Brexit disruption as well as longstanding problems with safety caused by gillnetters.
Commenting on the letter while on Whalsay, Mr Carmichael said:
“Fishermen feel used and forgotten by this government and the only way that ministers are going to turn that around is to start actively engaging with the industry. Expecting the minister to travel up to Shetland to talk to skippers and organisation leaders may seem optimistic – but if anything this is the least that we should expect given how much the government has used fishermen as a political prop. Just last week Minister Prentis claimed in Parliament that fishermen have “really gained” in the last few months from Brexit – she should try that one on the quays in Whalsay.
“The trading fiascos of past months and the problems with quota swaps are just part of the story. Fishermen are rightly asking why, if we have taken back control of our waters, are dangerous actions by gillnetters still being allowed to occur? Again I believe that a face-to-face meeting with those affected would make it clear how important this is to local people.”
“The government has taken a transparently disinterested stance on the fishing industry since Brexit was “done” and has tried its level best to pretend that the many issues identified by fishermen did not exist or were mere “teething problems”. Based on the level of correspondence I received before and after this month’s debate I do not believe that this hands-off approach is sustainable. We need proper engagement – the response to today’s letter will be telling.”