Buchan Observer 5 February 2019

The SNP’s ruinous taxation policies have hit businesses hard in the North East, something that has been underlined by the recent briefing by Seafish.

This industry body’s analysis of non-domestic rates has shown our white fish processors are at a huge disadvantage because they are paying far more than businesses in Humberside for example. There is therefore a risk that competitors elsewhere in the UK could undercut our fish-processing sector.

Industry figures have been calling for a reduction in rates for years, only for the SNP Government to increase the poundage to the highest rate in the UK.

There is very little sign that this policy will change.

Many of our local seafood processing firms struggle to compete as a result of these excessive rates.

Industry stakeholders tell me that they should be using those funds, to future proof themselves for the years to come. As we prepare to leave the EU, the whole sector needs to adapt and grow to make the most of the ‘Sea of Opportunity’, from leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The SNP Government are quite content to blame Brexit for their own inability to do anything.  However, rather than hindering progress, they should be encouraging and supporting investment in the industry.

I was delighted to serve on Public Bill Committee for the Fisheries Bill which is currently working its way through Parliament. Before this Bill returns to the commons in the coming weeks, I have tabled an amendment which will ensure that UK fishermen would cease to be under the influence of the CFP, “no later than 31 December 2020.”  I am glad to report that this amendment is gathering quite a bit of cross-party support.