The Scottish Government has been accused of failing the north east’s fish processing industry after islands minister Humza Yousaf declined to commit to further support.
Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East region Peter Chapman asked Mr Yousaf whether his government would assist Scotland’s factories, which have shrunk in number by just over a third over the past eight years.
The chamber heard much of the whitefish landed in the north east is sent to England for processing because it is cheaper.
Mr Chapman said his general question at the Scottish Parliament went unanswered.
“The Scottish Government is failing our vital fishing industry,” he said.
“The minister would only comment about an existing pot of money in the European Fisheries Fund and the number of migrant workers who are involved in the industry.
“The UK Government is looking at the issue of guaranteeing a migrant workforce.
“So the real question remains about what can be done to help, whether that be business rates relief or another scheme.”
Mr Chapman said during questions: “Given that we expect increased tonnages of fish landing post-Brexit, it is very concerning that from 2008 to 2016 there has been a 34% decline in fish processing factories, and a 12% decline in the people employed in processing fish in Scotland.
“Now these fish are being driven to areas like Grimsby with significantly lower business rates and running costs and there seems to be no government support to drive down costs for this industry, and processors in Scotland are struggling with high levels of business rates, water charges and effluent charges.
“Will the Scottish Government commit to helping build this industry and stop driving our fish out of Scotland?”