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Seafood Sector

Volume 737: debated on Wednesday 13 September 2023

10. What recent discussions he has held with Cabinet colleagues on supporting the seafood sector in Scotland. (906288)

The Government are committed to supporting our seafood sector, which is the lifeblood of some of the most remote and fragile communities in Scotland. This past Monday, I met with ministerial colleagues in the Home Office to discuss in more detail the comprehensive package of support measures this Government have offered to the sector to ease access to labour challenges.

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. What discussions has he had with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero—I see the Minister, our hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie), sitting next to him on the Front Bench—and the Scottish Government to ensure that the impacts of offshore wind on the fishing industry and coastal communities will be adequately addressed, along with the impacts of marine protection areas?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his continued, energetic and relentless campaigning for his constituency and the fishing sector. This Government are committed to working with other Government Departments and the Scottish Government on our shared ambition to protect the marine environment and ensure that the increasing spatial squeeze on our sea is managed effectively. However, we also note the legitimate concerns of the fishing industry and continue to engage with stakeholders, other UK Government Departments and the Scottish Government through the Scottish Seafood Industry Action Group. I understand that the Energy Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie), is due to meet my hon. Friend shortly.

Fishermen from Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel work hand in hand with fishermen from Scotland, so whatever benefits the Minister can bring to Scottish fishermen will benefit the fishermen and fisherwomen of Northern Ireland. Have any discussions taken place of how Scotland and Northern Ireland can work better together, including here at Westminster?

I am happy to work with all colleagues across the United Kingdom to advance the fishing industry, and I am happy to meet the hon. Member to discuss how we do that together.