Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has shown his support for the local scallop industry in a Scottish Parliament fisheries debate.
The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP used his speech in the annual end of year negotiations to show his backing for the local scallop industry in Kirkcudbright, which is the United Kingdom’s largest scallop port.
Mr Carson highlighted the many number of countries local companies like West Coast Sea Products export to, as well as the action he took against the measures proposed last year by the Isle of Man Government which would have been devastating for Kirkcudbright fishermen.
In his speech he said: “Representing Galloway and West Dumfries, I am acutely aware of the challenges that the fishing sector faces and how we must protect its interests as we leave the European Union.
“Indeed, my constituency is home to the UK’s largest scallop port at Kirkcudbright, and I pay tribute to our fishermen who work tirelessly, often putting their lives at risk all year round, sometimes in the most horrendous conditions.
“The scallop sector generates £40 million a year for the fishing sector.”
Calling for support from the SNP Government, he said: “The industry needs the Scottish Government’s support. This time last year, I was hugely concerned by the Scottish Government’s lack of urgency about supporting our Scottish scallop industry in relation to new proposals from the Isle of Man Government.
“Although I highlighted the early concerns of Kirkcudbright fishermen in the Autumn last year that boats could face daily catch limits and having to report to an Isle of Man port daily, the cabinet secretary initially appeared not to take the concerns seriously.
“I raised the issue with ministers and urged them to stand up to the Manx Government and defend the interests of fishermen in the south-west, but it was not until the issue was raised again in December last year that the position was sorted out.”
And highlighting West Coast Sea Products exporting, Mr Carson said: “Hugely significant to the Scottish scallop fleet is barrier-free trade, as a large volume of shellfish— 85 per cent of it—is exported to the EU market. West Coast Sea Products, which is based in Kirkcudbright, is a fine example of that—it exports to France, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland and Germany.”
Following the speech Mr Carson said: “The fishing industry is absolutely vital for our coastal communities like Kirkcudbright, so I was proud to show my support for our fishermen in the Scottish Parliament.
“As we leave the European Union, I believe there is a sea of opportunities that can be gained by our fishing industry as we leave the hated Common Fisheries Policy.
“I will always stand up for our fishermen and support measures that promote the industry locally.”