Fishing Issues/BREXIT



Meeting with Migration Policy Unit.

On Friday 28th May your association met with officials from the Migration Policy Unit, Immigration and Border Policy Directorate in sheffield. In attendance  with me were Alan McCulla (ANIFPO) and Darren Stevenson  of  McGill & Co Solicitors. It was the first in a series of meetings that will hopefully go some way to resolving current issues with  non EEA crew.Officials were good enough to share some proposed alterations to the current rules and guidance before the meeting, none of which resolved any of our current issues.

They listened  very intently to our “story” which covered all angles and areas of concern.  We made them aware of the fact that the sector was in the process of recruiting but it would take some time to  introduce enough home crew.  The requirement for VMS data and the refusal of legitimate requests for entry was also cited as ridiculous aspect of the current approach. They were furnished with various papers including a draft of a paper by Human Rights at Sea (Commissioned by ANIFPO), which concluded that non EEA crew were well catered for.  They agreed with us that the current regulations and guidance were confusing and that some clearer understanding  was required although there was  extensive discussion  on what any new approach should, or should not, permit.  They agreed that the expression ” mainly or wholly” set out great confusion with some suggesting it should allow liberal interpretation.

Officials concluded that section (8)1 of the act is an exemption from the regulation and to operate within 12 miles requires a work permit. A clear separation between the two.   Officials pointed out that they were looking for a tougher line and removing confusion was the start of a process. Notwithstanding the above comments, this was seen as a hugely positive meeting where officials listened and seemed understanding of our plight.  Everyone accepted the restrictions on certain comments given purdah however, officials were as open as possible.

The industry group took away a number of positives and actions:

  • A further meeting will be arranged once the new government and/or ministers are in place

  • In the meantime Darren will  send through some  comments on the confusing parts of the current rules and guidance

  • Industry  will start work on blue sky thinking around what we need to solve the issue.  (They were reasonably excited on our proposal to carry out this work)

I will of course report on any further meetings.

Best Regards

Mike Park (SWFPA)




The last update on Brexit was sent to you on the 23 March.  Since then there has been an unexpectedly helpful Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce meeting, an informal meeting with Marine Scotland and a short introductory meeting with the Scottish Seafood Association, see below.   In the immediate future, there has been an invitation to join the panel in the first meeting of a Holyrood All Party Group on Brexit, on the evening of 19 April, which we will take up using the mandated SFF policy.

  • We have access to the Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce via SFF Services membership, where attendance at the Aberdeen Chapter event is useful for business.  A Brexit event was held on the evening of 29thMarch, which I attended and contributed our standard message to the panel discussion.  A fellow panel member was the UK Ambassador to Norway, Sarah Gillett.  I had a chance to discuss our study visit to Norway and she has offered any assistance the embassy can offer on dealings with Norway pre and post Brexit, for example they have an active trade department which can offer generic advice on how Norway works or answer any specific questions we might have.

  • An informal catch-up meeting was held with Marine Scotland on 7thApril, which looked at the emerging timings now that Article 50 has been declared and the scope of work before Brexit day one..  In summary, from now until the end of the summer the focus will be on the UK settlement – the divorce terms if you like – which the EU has declared will have to conclude before trade discussions can start.  The real action should therefore begin in the autumn, which leaves thereafter little more than a year before the end of the post Article 50 period to conclude arrangements.  The fishing issues are at least well scoped and should not be insurmountable.

  • And finally, following an approach from the SSA – the processors association – about cooperation, IG and BA has an exploratory meeting with the SSA Business Manager Jimmy Buchan and Chairman David Leiper on 12thApril.  Discussions indicated no difference in message and it was agreed that close cooperation on Brexit would benefit the industry as a whole, covering the entire supply chain and its part in the coastal communities and beyond.

(Prepared by the SFF) 



MSC press release – Clarification on Seafood Ratings Advice

17th March 2017

In response to today’s media coverage of our latest ratings for seafood update, and specifically for our revised advice for haddock from North Sea and West of Scotland areas, the Marine Conservation Society would like to clarify the following points.

MCS has not called for haddock be taken off menus. MCS only actively asks this when a fishery or farming method is red rated (rated 5). The new ratings for North Sea and West of Scotland haddock are 3 and 4.

The new ratings come after the latest scientific advice from ICES which was released in November last year. This advice indicated that the levels of fishing that can be considered sustainable for this population are lower than previously thought, meaning a smaller proportion should be caught. This means that advice for catches in 2017 are 47% lower than originally advised for catches in 2016. Latest quotas have been reduced in line with this scientific advice, and the biomass is expected to significantly increase this year.

Recruitment – the number of young fish joining the fishery – has tended to be consistently lower since 2000, and consequently scientists have under-estimated the reference points used to determine stock and exploitation status, which are considered to be more representative of the productivity of the stock.

Contrary to some suggestions, consumers should not expect to see a shortage of haddock in shops.

A new assessment will be undertaken later this year, when new ICES advice becomes available, and if the health of the fishery has improved as expected, this will be reflected in MCS ratings.

Through our Good Fish Guide, we encourage people to make informed buying decisions, and to try and choose seafood from the fisheries and farming methods that have the least impact on our seas. Read the advice we provide for haddock here.


Some unwarranted media attention has been focused on North Sea Haddock today by MCS.  Could I ask that you spread the word through all you’re media routes, twitter Facebook etc that this attack is unjustified and totally wrong. We will obviously be doing all we can from this end.

Here are the facts about the stock – Notes Since 2007 the spawning stock biomass (SSB) has been above the reference point for maximum sustainable yield (MSY) with fishing mortality being lower than the MSY reference point (a well-managed sustainable fishery).  Indeed, only last year the advice had been for an increased catch of 30%. During the 2016 assessment an error in the stock assessment model was discovered.  In addressing this matter, fisheries scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) corrected the statistical model, reviewed the reference points for fishing mortality and reassessed the advice. The updated assessment resulted in a reduction in the haddock catch advice by 45%.  This is based on fishing for 2017 at a rate of 0.1,  (ie. fishing at the sustainable rate of MSY) This will see the spawning stock, which is currently above the precautionary approach reference point, increasing to 206,000 Tonnes next year, well above the MSY reference point. In effect, fishing activity is being managed at sustainable levels.

(Prepared by Kenny Coull SFF)


Mike Park CEO, SWFPA



Scottish Fishermen’s Federation comment on Brexit White Paper

 Commenting on the Brexit plan set out in the Government’s White Paper today (2 February), Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said:   “The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation welcomes the Prime Minister’ s stated approach to the Brexit negotiations as one of anticipating success.  Delivery of the White Paper vision of a world leading food industry is an ambition fully shared by the fishing sector.

 “The goal is clear – to grasp the enormous opportunity that Brexit presents.   The figures quoted in the White Paper illuminate the potential with EU vessels catching 683,000 tonnes (£484 million revenue) of fish in UK waters compared with UK vessels catching 111,000 tonnes (£114 million revenue) in EU waters.

 “This is a world-class natural resource, for which full rights and responsibilities will transfer to the UK at the point of Brexit.  It is a precious national asset that will last into perpetuity and which must not be traded away in the forthcoming negotiations.

 “For fishing communities the length and breadth of the UK, Brexit is a golden opportunity – indeed a sea of opportunities – which we must not squander.”


Media enquiries,

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive: Tel: 01224 646944, or 07801 626822

Keith Broomfield: Tel: 01259 742575 or, 07890 781151



Brexit.  The last Brexit update was sent to you on the 2 December. Herewith an update of events since then and subsequent events, and upcomers:

  • There was a pop-up event on the 5 December– we became aware from the BBC that CabSec Fergus Ewing was visiting Peterhead market and Bertie attended since Brexit was bound to come up.  On the day he was accompanied by Stewart Stevenson MSP and Eilidh Whiteford MP.  It was a  full market with lots of photo and chat opportunities for the politicians.  The media covered it and there was a generous slot provided on Good Moring Scotland, which the CabSec agreed to do one-to-one with Bertie  (not normal Scottish Government policy for Ministers).  It went well, stayed harmonious was helpful in allowing me to put the Brexit challenges mentioned by CabSec  (EMFF funding and EU workers in processing) in sensible context.  Also and significantly, he clearly stated the immediately agreed point that fishing should not be traded away. There was separate coverage TV of CabSec, Steven Bruce, Andrew  Charles and me by both STV and BBC.  All the industry speakers talked of the advantages of Brexit.

  • Meeting with Keir Starmer: Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary 5 Dec.  This was hosted by Simon Collins, Fiona Matheson, Tommy Finn and me.  The meeting was arranged by Lewis Macdonald MSP and exceeded expectations.  Appropriately for an ex Director of Public Prosecutions, the Shadow Sec is super-quick on the uptake and from a modest starting point of knowledge he listened carefully, accepted our main points, noted the uphill nature of balance with other industries’ competing priorities and offered to help.  We agreed to make sure that his office received all necessary materials and we will visit him, perhaps early in the New Year.

  • Clearance of the inshore Paper.  In the afternoon Malcolm arranged and hosted a skype call (Fiona, Tommy, MM and from SAFPO, Kevin McDonell and Davie Anderson), to resolve any difficulties with the inshore paper.  This was successful and the agreed amendments were duly received from SAFPO.  The consolidated paper is now ready for publication.

  • Two Events on Wednesday 7 Dec. The first was a routine meeting of the Marine Strategy Forum, which is an approximately annual talking shop warranting attendance in this instance because Rosanna Cunningham, the Environment CabSec (a post elevated Scottish Cabinet rank after the last election) was introducing herself, and there was an item on Brexit. Our Brexit message was transmitted clearly.  The second event was the Holyrood annual debate on fishing opportunity.  The House endorsed the CabSec’ s mission to do the best possible job for Scotland, and there was also a lively debate on the opportunities of Brexit.

  • December Councilthen intervened, and on the return journey we had a catch-up meeting with DEFRA on the possible way ahead for fisheries management post-Brexit.

Early in the New Year will be the time for another cycle of activity with the Brexit decision-makers, including both Parliaments.   Regarding upcoming events, the Westminster Select Committee on Brexit is taking evidence in Aberdeen on Monday 19th

(Provided by the SFF)

Best Regards


Chief Executive

Scottish White Fish Producers Association Limited Fraserburgh Business Centre South Harbour Road Fraserburgh AB43 9TN Email: Web:

News: Tel: 07710504773



Brexit.  The last Brexit update was sent to you on the 17 November, the subsequent events and inputs have occurred and are expected:

  • On 21stNovember two members of the Holyrood “Economy, Jobs and Fair Work” Committee (Gillian Martin MSP and Liam Kerr MSP) visited the Federation along with a committee clerk to learn our views on Brexit and Fishing.  They are visiting a variety of industries and businesses to fact find, and the Sea of Opportunity briefing on benefits and challenges for us was delivered.  There was much positive input to give them on economic and job opportunities if Brexit is handled correctly.  They overstayed a little, which was welcomed as genuine interest in the issue, and we have of course offered to give evidence formally to the committee when appropriate.

  • The SeaFish Domestic and Exporters panel met on 23rdNovember and among other issues there was a general discussion on Brexit.  There were no great surprises and it was an opportunity to again underline the potential benefits to be grasped.

  • On 25thNovember, the joint SFF/NFFO meeting was held in Edinburgh.  This had the sole purpose of agreeing the headlines of Brexit for the whole industry, to better press all the UK governments to coherently chase the overall grand prize of fishing post-Brexit.  It was not a forum for negotiation.  We presented our headlines, as below, which were agreed and then made public in a press and social media release, which you will have seen (to refer to it, see our Fishing for the Truth website).

o   Brexit has monumental significance for the nation’s fishing industry, and for the communities and economic activity connected with it.  If handled correctly there will be very significant benefit.

o   The Coastal State created on Brexit will have full rights and responsibilities for the management of the seafood resources in the EEZ.  The beneficial consequences of this should be:

o   Equitable division of catching opportunity in line with zonal attachment – i.e. more for our industry

o   Control of access into the EEZ by other nations’ vessels, for the benefit of the Coastal State

o   Creation of fit-for-purpose management and regulation system – a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on sustainable harvesting of our natural resources guided by sound science

o   There must be no roll-on of the CFP

o   The negotiations regarding fisheries must be stand-alone and not treated as a trade-off against other issues

o   A sensible, workable discard policy and regulation can be created

o   There will be benefit for all sectors of the fishing industry including those operating inshore

  • On 30thNovember, in the margins of EU/Norway Round II in Bergen, a first exploratory meeting was held with Norwegian Officials about a fact-finding visit by the Federation in March 2017.  The obvious purpose would be to see first-hand how a Coastal State outside the EU runs and manages their fishing industry.  The Norwegians have among other things a very visible and apparently successful inshore sector. The intention is to look carefully at all sectors and aspects, so inshore reps will be needed on the trip.

  • There was a Westminster Fisheries debate on 1stDecember, for which a factual press release was published including a personal copy for every MP.

Immediately upcoming events are:

  • On Monday 5thDecember the Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer MP will visit the SFF along with local Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald.

  • On Wednesday 7thDecember there will be the annual Holyrood fisheries debate, in the afternoon.  As per Westminster, an appropriate input will be provided to each MSP.

 As you see, there is a great deal going on.  We have just received our Legal Opinion on historic rights for fishing.  It is very encouraging, and will be circulated and published next week.  Heavy work by the core team continues on producing a workable skeleton of a management system before year-end for discussion and development, and the commissioned science on zonal attachment is expected imminently.  It’s worthy of note that we are still pressing for governments to commit firmly and publically to the basics – see headlines in italics above.

Prepared by the SFF



Scots fishing industry underlines to MPs the sea of opportunity from Brexit

With MPs due to debate the future of the UK fishing industry in the House of Commons tomorrow (1 December), the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is underlining the real opportunity for sustainable economic growth that Brexit can deliver for our coastal communities.

The UK’s two main representative organisations for fishing, the SFF and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), have welcomed Brexit as providing the structure for an ambitious new fisheries management regime that will ensure significant economic benefit for fishing communities once the UK regains control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It will pave the way for environmentally sustainable, high yield and profitable fisheries.

The two federations are seeking the following outcomes from Brexit:

  • Fairer shares of catching opportunity for UK vessels.

  • Full control over access to the UK EEZ by fishing fleets.

  • Creation of a fit-for-purpose management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on sustainable harvesting and sound science.

  • Establishment of mutually beneficial trading relationships with the EU and other countries.

The fishing industry is now seeking cross-party support from MPs to help deliver these goals. In particular, the SFF and NFFO are underlining the importance of ensuring that the opportunities presented to fishing are not traded away in the forthcoming negotiations to leave the EU.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “It is essential that our politicians are fully onside so that they can deliver these opportunities – fishing must not be considered expendable in the pursuit of some other goal.

“We firmly believe that the outcomes from the negotiations should benefit all sectors of the fishing industry, inshore and offshore, fish and shellfish. This is turn will benefit our important processing industry and other onshore support sectors, creating new jobs and sustainable economic growth.

“The fishermen of Britain are speaking with one voice. We hope our politicians can do the same.”


Media enquiries,

Keith Broomfield: Tel: 01259 742575 or 07890 781151

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive: Tel: 07801 626822



UK fishermen’s federations adopt united stance on Brexit

The UK’s two main representative organisations for commercial fishermen – the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) – have agreed upon common principles to ensure the best possible deal for coastal communities in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

The two federations met in Edinburgh on Friday 25 November and agreed the key outcomes they want to achieve from negotiations to leave the EU.

Fishermen across the UK have welcomed Brexit as providing a historic opportunity to secure significant economic benefit to coastal communities once the UK regains control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

At the meeting between the two federations, it was agreed that they would seek the following outcomes from Brexit:

  • Fairer shares of catching opportunity for UK vessels.

  • Full control over access to the UK EEZ by fishing fleets.

  • Creation of a fit-for-purpose management and regulation system, including a grass roots revision of fisheries management based on sustainable harvesting and sound science.

  • Establishment of mutually beneficial trading relationships with the EU and other countries.

The federations also agreed that there must be no roll-over of the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and that negotiations regarding fisheries should not be entangled with non-fisheries issues.

Furthermore, the federations insist that negotiations must benefit all sectors of the fishing industry. Inshore and offshore fleets, fish and shellfish all stand to benefit from the opportunities that the UK’s exit from the EU provides.

In particular, the federations believe this is an opportunity to go beyond the limited achievements of the CFP. An ambitious management strategy for UK waters that will provide environmentally sustainable, high yield and profitable fisheries for the future must be created. In particular there is a need to devise and implement a workable discards policy.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “Brexit has monumental significance for the nation’s fishing industry and our coastal communities in terms of providing the opportunity for a significant increase in economic activity. It is vital that fishermen across the UK speak with a united voice to ensure that the UK and devolved governments fight for the interests of these communities in the forthcoming negotiations.

“The UK fishing industry is speaking with one voice – it is a sea of opportunity that must not be traded away.”

Barrie Deas, chief executive of the NFFO, which represents a broad section of fishermen across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, said: “We see the UK’s departure from the EU and therefore the CFP as an opportunity to address the distortions that were built into the CFP from its inception. The UK industry is united that this is a once in a generation opportunity to put things right.”


More information on the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation at

More information on the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations at

Media enquiries,

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive: Tel: 07801 626822

Keith Broomfield: Tel: 01259 742575 or 07890 781151



Scottish fishers to highlight opportunities of Brexit

Scottish fishing leaders are taking their campaign to promote the opportunities that Brexit can deliver for Scotland’s coastal communities to the highest level with a series of meetings this coming week with key government representatives.

The Scottish fishing industry believes that Brexit provides a ‘sea of opportunity’ for Scotland and the UK to reinvigorate coastal and island communities and deliver a thriving and sustainable seafood industry. Brexit will enable the UK to regain control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which in turn will lead to more effective management and fairer shares of catching opportunity.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation will give evidence tomorrow (24 October) to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee in Glasgow to outline how Brexit, if handled properly, will provide the framework for injecting fresh dynamism into Britain’s fishing communities.

On Wednesday morning (26 October), Scottish fishing leaders will also underline the opportunities of Brexit at a specially convened meeting in Westminster with Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and George Eustice MP, the UK Fisheries Minister. Later that day, further talks will be held in Edinburgh with the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP, and Mike Russell MSP, the Scottish Government Minister with responsibility for Brexit.

Bertie Armstrong said: “Brexit really is a sea of opportunity for our coastal and island communities. Scotland sits strategically on the northern continental shelf right in the middle of some of the richest fishing grounds in the world.  Having control of these fishing grounds would generate significant and sustainable economic growth to these communities with spin-off benefits for local businesses and schools.

“But to achieve this, we need our politicians to be fully onside so that fishing is right at the heart of the Brexit process. We will be telling UK and Scottish Government ministers that it would be unforgivable if fishing was traded away during the negotiations. It is vital that both governments look at the positives and work as a team to deliver the best possible deal for our coastal communities.”


For more information,

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive: Tel: 01224 646944, or 07801 626822

Keith Broomfield: Tel: 01259 742575 or 07890 781151



Brexit creates unique opportunity to reinvigorate our coastal and island communities

The Scottish fishing industry is united in its conviction that exit from the EU presents a unique set of opportunities for Scotland to reinvigorate its coastal and island communities and deliver a thriving and sustainable seafood industry, says an industry briefing paper prepared for MSPs ahead of tomorrow’s (14 September) Scottish parliamentary debate on Brexit.

The paper – Scottish Fisheries Post-Brexit: A Sea of Opportunities – states that exit from the EU will enable the UK to assert control over its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and that foreign vessels could not then fish in that EEZ without express consent.

The paper, jointly produced by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) and the Scottish Association of Fish Producers’ Organisations, says: “This sea area – most of it Scottish – contains some of the most productive, valuable and diverse fisheries to be found anywhere. Access to it confers a particularly strong bargaining position that should not be conceded within the general Brexit negotiating mix. It should be used instead to secure the future of our own fishing industry.”

Given that the fisheries in what would become our EEZ are currently managed largely by the EU, and Scottish vessels account for a minority of overall catches from them, the paper outlines two key areas where Brexit creates major opportunities:

  • The power to establish a more effective and reactive fisheries management system in our waters that delivers business as well as environmental sustainability. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy does a poor job on both counts.

  • Fairer and more appropriate shares of catching opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry within our own waters. At present, Scottish vessels account for a minority of the total tonnage and value taken from what would become our EEZ; control over who has access to these prize fishing grounds could generate significant and sustainable economic growth in Scotland’s island and coastal communities at no cost to the taxpayer.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF said: “Brexit provides a sea of opportunity to restore our coastal rights and give our industry a real chance to prosper once again.  We will have the critical mass to control the bulk of fishing on the northern continental shelf, with some of the best fishing grounds in the world.”

Other opportunities include the freedom to explore new markets for seafood in rapidly expanding economies outside the EU, the ability to direct any grant funding in ways more suited to Scotland than the EU currently allows, and scope for innovative thinking around fleet diversification and development.

The paper concludes: “The Scottish fishing industry seeks close working relationships with both the Scottish and UK governments during the Brexit process and thereafter. We intend to secure the best possible deal for Scottish fishers, irrespective of constitutional developments, and believe that the two governments working together would produce the best possible outcome for fishers on both sides of the border.”

The full briefing paper can be viewed at


For more information,

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive: Tel: 01224 646944, or 07801 626822

Keith Broomfield: Tel: 01259 742575 or 07890 781151



BBC News: Michael Russell appointed Scottish Brexit minister