TORY promises to protect devolution are shown to be abject nonsense today as the UK Government publishes its new fisheries policy.

According to Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Westminster has failed to consult Holyrood yet again on a matter that is devolved,

except for the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Having already had to concede that its new UK policy cannot be introduced until 2020, the Westminster Government’s draft fisheries White Paper, entitled Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations,

ignores much of what the Scottish Government has argued.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “It is deeply frustrating that once again the UK Government has failed to substantively engage with us while developing its future fisheries proposals. This near lack of formal engagement presents a

significant and continued risk to the current devolved settlements and is totally unacceptable. The paper completely ignores the critical importance of ongoing access to labour for the seafood processing sector and, while acknowledging the seafood trade as “vital”, provides no detail what-

soever on how seafood exports will be protected from potentially

damaging trade barriers.

“We can only conclude that polit-ical considerations and undeliverable promises are far more important to the UK Government than the real needs of businesses and coastal communities, and economic reality.

“In addition there are a number of areas where clarity is required not least where exactly it is being proposed as a UK approach and where the proposals are for England only.”

Ewing went on: “As I have said repeatedly, there is no UK fisheries policy and to suggest so is misleading. There are legitimately different regimes for different regional fisheries, and fishing is fully devolved.

“I have repeatedly signalled my willingness to engage on a range of EU exit issues in good faith. However, I will continue to resolutely oppose any attempt to interfere with the

established powers of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish zone or Scottish vessels wherever they operate.”

The policy states that from 2020, the UK will negotiate access to its waters as an independent coastal state. Access to waters and fishing opportunities will be negotiated on an annual basis in a similar approach to that of other coastal states, including Norway, the Government said.

The paper sets out ways for “fairer” allocation of fishing opportunities based on the distribution and includes a commitment to publishing an annual statement on health of fish stocks based on the latest scientific evidence, with plans to restore struggling stocks to healthy levels.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I have been clear that when we leave the EU we will take back control of our waters, while ensuring we don’t see our fishermen unfairly denied access to other waters.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities.”