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Jamie McGrigor: Time for the Conservatives to bring fishing home

Speech to Scottish Conservative Spring Conference

My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen

Three minutes is hardly sufficient to tell you about what has happened to the Scottish fishing industry during four years of the Scottish Parliament. It is a sorry tale, and if ever an example was needed of bad European governance, then look at the Common Fisheries Policy and you won't be disappointed. And if ever an example was needed of the tacit subordination and acceptance of a rotten deal for our national interests, then you need look no further than the pathetic way in which Ross Finnie and Elliot Morley have bowed to European pressure instead of standing up for our fishing fleet in its time of need.

I am no Europe sceptic, but it has unfortunately become obvious that the Westminster and Scottish Governments are so infatuated and impressed by European institutions and their directives, that they put the agenda of those institutions ahead of the livelihoods and incomes of the fishermen and fish processors who support so many thousands of jobs and families in Scottish fishing communities.

The writing was on the wall when Franz Fischler, a land lock, un-elected Brussels beaurocrat, awarded virtually all the quota for deepwater species in Scottish waters to the French, leaving our fishermen with a meagre 2%. This same man has now introduced measures which have slashed Scottish white fish quota by 50%, slashed the days allowed to catch these fish to 15 a month, and probably caused the decommissioning of so many vessels that there will not be a Scottish whitefish fleet left in the future. That would suit his plans for a single European fleet dominated by Spain, which could pick up the quotas left over from the redundant Scottish fleet. That is surely not good enough for us.

The Common Fishery Policy management has failed to conserve stocks. It has even encouraged industrial fishing for sand eels and Norway pout which destroys huge numbers of juvenile cod, haddock and whiting. And the Common Fishery Policy management has also failed to protect the jobs of fishermen. In any other industry, any management team that hides behind the scientists and at the same time blames the workforce for its own inefficiencies, would face the sack. P45's would be showering down. That is why our policy must be to scrap the C.F.P and find a way of returning to national and local control of our fisheries. Every member state should do the same.

We Scottish Conservatives will have a policy based on good science and fisheries knowledge. A policy that will provide a sustainable future for future generations of Scottish fishermen and their dependants. This will never be achieved by micro-management from Brussels.

It is time for the Conservatives to stand up for the fishing industry - it is time for the Conservatives to bring fishing home.

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