FISHING: DEFRA Secretary Eustice must step aside after shellfish fiasco

Tory shellfish blunder while SNP turbine promise was all hot air, say LibDems

Oysters are a treat for visitors to Oban. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Rory Murphy

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on DEFRA Secretary George Eustice to resign after reports that the Government had privately admitted that a ban on live shellfish exports to the EU dsn’t exist.

There were red faces all round when it was revealed that it was in fact legal despite public denials.

The U-turn from the Government came just hours after George Eustice stood in Parliament and claimed that the EU was in the wrong over the ban, which affects shellfish businesses along the West Coast.

These included some which have already closed permanently over the trade change.

A DEFRA spokesperson sidestepped the claims, made by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain.

DEFRA ministers have been under pressure for weeks over a string of disruptions and losses for seafood exporters and fishermen, with the department accused of being permanently on the back foot on trading changes by critics, and of breaking promises made to the fishing industry by Brexit campaigners.

Mr Carmichael said:  “Yesterday George Eustice made a statement in Parliament blaming everyone else – today he has thrown in the towel –  “The seafood industries can no longer have confidence in anything he says.

“Problems that he and the Prime Minister created were initially dismissed as ‘teething problems’ but now are shown to be part of what the Government has negotiated for us.

“That’s Government failures which have left shellfish exporters picking up a hefty tab.

“It seems that George Eustice has no solutions left to offer. He should step aside and let somebody else fix this mess. It is difficult to see how he can remain in his job after this fiasco.”

Shellfish is major part of the fishing industry at Oban Harbour in Argyll.

Meanwhile, speaking in this afternoon’s debate on the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee’s debate on a Green Recovery, Scottish Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:  “Ten years ago, the SNP promised 28,000 green jobs, with Scotland becoming a world manufacturing base for offshore renewables. Last year, contracts for 114 wind turbine platforms for the outer Forth estuary were awarded.

“A Scottish yard bid for just four of them. And didn’t get any. All 114 will be made in the Middle East and China.

“Scotland missed its emissions reduction target for 2018. So while the SNP’s rhetoric and promises are world leading – their delivery so far has failed to walk the talk.

“As we move to ensure our ambitious legislation results in ambitious action, Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to play a constructive role.

“We have done in this pushing for greater action on electric vehicles, warm homes and plastic pollution and we have held the Scottish Government to account on their support for policies like a third runway at Heathrow, which flies in the face of tackling the climate emergency.”

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