INDEPENDENCE would allow for the “full potential” of Scotland’s marine sector to be unlocked, the Rural Affairs Secretary has said.

Mairi Gougeon said leaving the UK and becoming an independent member of the European Union could help reverse the impact of Brexit on the sector.

A Scottish Government paper published on Friday told how an independent Scotland could join the EU within two to five years of negotiations starting.

The next in the series of pro-independence Building A New Scotland papers is due to be launched on Tuesday – with the latest one focused on the impact independence could have on the country’s marine sector.

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That sector is a “national asset,” Gougeon said, but she stressed that it was “only with the full powers of independence that we can unlock its full potential”.

The Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Secretary stated: “Brexit has significantly impacted Scotland’s marine sector, creating major barriers to trade, reducing access to labour and a loss of fishing opportunities for parts of our fleet.

“As an independent EU Member State, Scotland would for the first time be able to negotiate for its own priorities at the heart of Europe.”

Gougeon added: “I look forward to publishing our paper and setting out how by independence can help to address the current challenges in our marine sector and benefit our people, communities, economy and environment.”