SCOTLAND’S fishing industry was hit by a Brexit bombshell yesterday when Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that European Union fishing boats will continue to catch fish in Scottish waters.

The revelation by Gove, son of an Aberdeen fish processor, in meetings with opposite numbers in Denmark came as a complete surprise to the Scottish Government which was not consulted over the announcement even though fisheries are a devolved matter.

The SNP said that the “startling revelations on the Tories’ true position over fisheries post-Brexit” showed that “you cannot trust the Tories to stand up for rural Scotland’s interests”.

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SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, said: “Michael Gove must immediately make absolutely clear what the UK Government’s real position on the future of fisheries is. He could start by confirming that devolved powers over fisheries will transfer to Scotland so that we can get on with developing our own management policies which put Scottish fishing interests, offshore and onshore, first.”

He added: “They might well be trying to keep voters and fishermen sweet at home with all sorts of promises, yet Michael Gove is jetsetting around Europe reassuring EU members there will be nothing of the sort.”

The revelations also caught the Brexit-supporting Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) on the hop.

SFF chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: “It is clear from our meetings with the government that control over our waters will be in our hands after Brexit. We will be out of the Common Fisheries Policy and we will decide who fishes where and for what.

“Our position is straightforward: we must have first call on quota.”

Those remarks are in stark contrast to Armstrong’s declaration after the Great Repeal Bill was published.

He said then: “As far as fisheries are concerned, the Great Repeal Bill is the first legislative step towards full UK control and management of its own waters.

“Control and management cannot be obtained without the removal of certain core elements of the Common Fisheries Policy, particularly common access to our fishing grounds and guaranteed shares of fishing opportunities within our Exclusive Economic Zone.”

Gove’s so-called “fact finding” meeting was attended by Niels Wichmann, chief executive of the Danish Fisheries Association.

He said: “The thing is he was just being realistic and he was saying that we need, within the Brexit negotiations phase, to find out where the final goal is, the final solution to the fisheries. The fisheries will be outside the common fisheries policy and we need a transitional period. In that transitional period we will have to have access from other countries.”

Other members of the Cabinet have already rejected all talk of transitional periods after Brexit.

Perhaps Gove’s most startling revelation to the Danes is that the UK does not have enough capacity to catch and process all its fish alone.

Wichmann added: “Gove said the British do not have the capacity to catch and process all the fish in British waters. Therefore, fishermen from Denmark and other EU countries will continue to have access to British waters after Brexit.

“It is still very positive and a little surprising that it comes from a British politician so early in the negotiation process.”

Wichmann said Gove did not make clear whether Danish boats would be able to keep the same quotas or would have them reduced.

Danish newspaper Finans wrote: “This is positive for fishermen in Denmark, France and Spain, for Brexit is a potential disaster for Danish fishing – which on average accounts for 40 per cent of its catches in British waters. They have long feared that after Brexit the British will seriously threaten to enforce a 200-mile limit and throw out all foreign fishermen.”

The LibDems’ Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, said that Gove’s comments showed promises by the Leave campaign about fishing were being broken, while Ukip Fisheries spokesman Mike Hookem said Gove’s comments prove the Conservatives are looking to barter them away around Europe in return for Brexit concessions.”

A spokesperson for Gove’s department Defra said: “Leaving the EU means we will take back control of our territorial waters. As we have always said, other countries will be able to access our waters – but for the first time in 50 years it will be on our terms and under our control.”