ONE of Scotland’s staunchest Brexiteers has blasted Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit immigration plans, warning they will be “catastrophic” for fishing industry. 

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Jimmy Buchan, the CEO of the Scottish Seafood Association, warned that any “sea of opportunity” coming from Brexit would be lost if processing firms were forbidden from hiring workers from overseas.

Buchan, a former Tory candidate, who joined Nigel Farage in a flotilla on the Thames ahead of the 2016 referendum, said the North East of Scotland was 70% dependent on migrant workers.

Asked if the industry would be able to attract local people into these jobs, he replied: “This is a story where we've become a victim of our own success. We've raised the bar of how we want our own people to live their lives. We've created education routes. We've encouraged people to seek different careers. We're in a very low employment area with oil and gas and light industry.

"So getting local people to do the task of the fish filleting and the skills that are needed here we've just found it very very challenging and that void has been filled by the freedom of movement of people across Europe who've been willing to come here and fill these posts. "

The government's new migration proposals – revealed earlier this week – would see a "points-based" immigration system, brought in with overseas citizens needing to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK.

There will be restrictions on those who are classed as unskilled, which could devastate sectors including tourism, care, farming and fishing.

Asked about automation as a solution to any recruitment crisis, Buchan replied: "I'll tell you something there's no one can beat the skill of a human with a knife whether it's filleting fish or whether it's a shucking knife and shucking scallops or cutting monktails. These are all tasks that to date can't be done by a machine. "

He added: "If we cannot get the people into the factories then any sea of opportunity that Brexit can provide is going to be economically lost. I think the fish will still be caught, the fish will still be bought and sold but the economic benefit to Scotland is going to be catastrophic because we will not be able to compete in a global market if we cannot get the workers in the factories."

Following the referendum result Buchan, a veteran skipper who became an unlikely celebrity thanks to the hit BBC documentary Trawlermen, said it was the realisation of a long-held dream. "When I saw the results come in I felt jubilation and a huge sense of relief," he said. "We fishermen have been campaigning to get out of Europe for decades."