AS I sit down to write  this week’s column,  I’m reminded of the unforgiving and often tumultuous waters our Scottish fishing industry has navigated over the years. 

Its recent journey has been marred by political currents, ones that have led to the conclusion, certainly for me, that independence is the beacon Scotland’s fishing industry needs to guide it to more prosperous and sustainable waters.

The relationship between Scotland’s fishing industry and the European Union, especially the Common Fisheries Policy, has always been complex, a tangle of benefits and constraints.

There’s no denying that there have been frustrations, particularly in how policies were shaped and implemented. But let’s be clear – the greatest betrayal didn’t come from the EU. It came from closer to home.

The UK Government’s Brexit trade deal was a stark revelation, a moment of uncomfortable truth. It laid bare a long-standing reality that Westminster’s promises to the fishing industry were as trustworthy as an impending storm.

The so-called “sea of opportunity” turned out to be nothing more than a mirage, leaving Scottish fishers navigating choppy waters of increased bureaucracy and diminished market access.

My recent motion to the Scottish Parliament, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, was an attempt to debate and shine a light on the industry’s significance, its struggles, and its potential. 

Regrettably, but perhaps unsurprisingly, not a single member of the Scottish Conservatives has chosen to support it.

It’s a telling sign, indicative of a broader pattern of behaviours that the fishing industry, a pivotal part of Scotland’s economy and culture, is only being acknowledged when it serves a political narrative. I use this opportunity to ask those not yet signed it to do so and allow it to come to the chamber to be debated.

In contrast to those behaviours, I’ve initiated a fisheries and coastal communities cross-party group, aiming to ensure that the voices of those at the heart of this industry are not just heard but are central to the discourse. This isn’t about scoring political points; it’s about genuine advocacy and collaborative problem-solving.

 It’s time for constructive engagement, and I earnestly hope that members across party lines, including the Conservatives, will support our fishers, not just in word but in deed.

The case for Scottish independence in this context is not just about rectifying past wrongs. It’s about seizing control of our destiny.

Independence offers a path for Scotland to sit directly at the negotiating table in the EU, advocating for its interests, shaping policies that are attuned to the unique needs of our waters and our communities.

It’s about moving from the periphery to the centre, where Scotland’s voice is not just heard but is influential.

Reflecting on the broader picture, Scotland’s potential as an independent nation within the EU is immense. We could harness the power of the world’s largest single market, ensuring that our fishers have access to crucial markets without the shackles of crippling bureaucracy.

We can craft policies that balance sustainability with profitability, ensuring that our fishing industry not only survives but thrives for generations to come.

It’s also about acknowledging the ripple effects of these policies. From processing plants to local economies, the health of this industry impacts the livelihoods of thousands. In an independent Scotland, we can ensure that these coastal communities are not mere afterthoughts but are integral to policy-making.

In the end, our pursuit of independence is deeply tied to the principle of self-determination. Just as we seek to empower individuals, we seek to empower industries and communities, enabling them to make decisions that reflect their needs, aspirations, and values.  The Scottish fishing industry, with its rich history and potential, deserves nothing less.

For the industry, and indeed for Scotland itself, the legacy we should strive for is one of empowerment, sustainability, and prosperity within a European family that respects and values our unique contributions.

The sea ahead may be uncertain, but our resolve is clear. For the sake of our fishers, our communities, and our nation, we must and will chart a course towards a future where Scotland stands proud and prosperous, master of its tides and its destiny.

The “Building a New Scotland” series of papers are more than just documents, they are a blueprint for the future of our nation. I am delighted that the latest instalment is set to focus on our fisheries. 

These papers have been a remarkable journey, showcasing the potential of an independent Scotland, and addressing key issues from economy to social welfare, and now to our marine sector.

This upcoming paper on fisheries isn’t just a policy document, it’s a testament to our commitment to one of Scotland’s most traditional and vital industries.

It represents a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

I look forward to exploring how its recommendations align with the aspirations of our fishing communities and how it proposes to harness the full potential of our seas.

This is more than policy-making, it’s about Scotland’s future and where we will focus, showing our priorities, and ensuring that our fishing industry remains a vibrant and sustainable part of our economy and culture shows just where our priorities lay.

This paper is not just about what it holds for the fishing sector. It’s about setting a precedent for how an independent Scotland can take control of its natural resources and industries, ensuring they are managed in a way that benefits our people and respects our environment. 

It’s about demonstrating that, with the right vision and leadership, Scotland can not only sustain its heritage but also propel it into a prosperous future. It’s about our responsibility to ensure food security for our people and  further afield. 

As I prepare to read this latest chapter in our nation-building journey, I have optimism and determination, ready to embrace the ideas and strategies that will help steer our beloved Scotland towards a future as bountiful and enduring as the seas that surround us.