SNP must be ready to catch fishing opportunities – Tories
MORAY Conservatives gathered last night to celebrate "brighter prospects" for the local fishing sector – and called on the SNP to ensure the industry is poised to take advantage of any post-Brexit opportunities.
Speaking at the AGM of the Moray Conservative Association, Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said: "We have a golden opportunity to secure a bright future for our fishing industry when we leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
"The coastal communities that we represent, including Buckie and Lossiemouth here in Moray, as well as those further east such as Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Macduff in my constituency, are united in looking forward, for the first time in decades, to regaining control of their futures when the UK becomes an independent coastal state again.
"But to take full advantage of this we need the SNP Scottish Government to step up and start backing the fishing communities. It is dismaying how negative they have been so far."
Moray Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie ward) said: "People in Buckie simply want the chance to rebuild their industry.
"There is already investment taking place in the town and, when we met Michael Gove in Buckie earlier this year, there was a palpable sense of enthusiasm and optimism about what could be achieved from everyone present at the meeting.
"If we can harness that can-do spirit then I am sure we can overcome any difficulties and provide a solid base for future growth here and elsewhere along the coast."
Referring to recent comments from Moray’s SNP MSP Richard Lochhead, Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: "It is quite extraordinary that about the one and only comment we have heard from Richard Lochhead on this subject in recent months has been to warn, via a social media post, that the French may cause difficulties about importing British seafood.
"Otherwise he has maintained radio silence on an issue that is of such importance to so many of his constituents.
"I can only imagine that he is too embarrassed to mention official SNP policy – which is to drag Scotland back into the hated CFP."
Buckie falls outwith Mr Lochhead's constituency as Moray MSP. He warned that even areas of the fishing industry would be negatively affected by a no deal Brexit.
Mr Lochhead hit back, saying: "Moray voted to remain in the EU and even Moray’s Tory MP, Douglas Ross, voted to Remain, which he doesn’t like to talk about any more given his volte face for opportunistic reasons.
"The Tories completely ignore the vast majority of Moray’s residents who will be harmed by Brexit and especially a no deal Brexit.
"Even many parts of the fishing industry will be damaged if we were to leave without a deal and I expect that even those fishermen that voted for Brexit didn’t expect the Tories to make such a mess of it and to back a no deal scenario.
"The Tories are hurting Moray and ignoring public opinion – and it will come back to haunt them."