In his first speech to the fishing industry, Cabinet Secretary for Fisheries, Fergus Ewing sought to give assurance to the industry following the uncertainty created by Brexit.
Addressing the Fisheries Innovation Scotland Conference in St Andrews he stressed how vital the industry is to the Scottish economy and workforce and he committed to act as a champion for the industry.
Mr Ewing said: “The sea fishing industries are major players in Scotland’s economic powerhouse, contributing hundreds of millions to the economy and safeguarding local jobs in some of our most remote communities.
“We need to protect these interests and it is my view that they can be best served by exploring all options to protect our relationship with the European Union.
“EU membership has provided significant guaranteed funding supporting over 1,200 projects which have safeguarded in excess of 8,000 jobs.
“I have called for the UK Government to extend the EU funding guarantee to be extended to cover £60 million of EMFF funding that is vital to the Rural Economy and Communities.
“In the absence of clarity from elsewhere, I will do all I can to champion our shared interests and provide reassurance, certainty and get on with the business of government during these uncertain times.
“It is now more important than ever that this vital industry is in the best possible position to deal with whatever management challenges and models we are faced with going forward. This is why we will continue to innovate the fishing sector and debate the future.”