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Richard Lochhead Steps Down as Rural Affairs Secretary

Sustainability Economics Politics +4 more

UK - Richard Lochhead has stepped down from his position as Rural Affairs Secretary ahead of a cabinet reshuffle.

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In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Lochhead noted that after nine years as Cabinet Secretary he is changing the priorities in his life in order to spend more time with his family.

Fergus Ewing has been appointed as the new Scottish Government Minister with responsibility for fishing (Rural Economy and Connectivity Secretary).

Commenting on the appointment, Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said: “We welcome the appointment of the new Minister and are pleased that this new cabinet position is focused on Scotland’s rural economy, of which fishing plays such an important part.

“There will be many pressing issues facing the minister, not least the phased introduction of the discard ban where it is essential that practicable and flexible management measures are put in place to prevent any negative impacts on the Scottish fleet.

“We would also like to see evidence-based decision-making at the heart of future fisheries management, for example in the designation and management of Marine Protected Areas.

“Scottish fishing has a great future – all we need is the right regulatory framework to ensure we meet its full potential. Indeed, in the past the most effective management decisions have always come when government and industry work together.”

The Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association also welcomed the announcement. Chief executive, Mike Park, commented: “I’m pleased that Fergus Ewing has been chosen for what is a hugely important post in the Scottish Government.

“We continue to face very significant challenges in the fishing industry and it’s vital that we work together with the Minister to address them.

“The SWFPA will seek an early meeting with Mr Ewing to share with him the substantial progress that has been made in recent years, particularly when it comes to sustainability, and emphasise the need not to jeopardise all this good work.”

The Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer, Simon Collins, added that he looks forward to working with Mr Ewing, particularly on making the discard ban regulations operable in practice and obtaining a fairer deal on mackerel.

“We believe he is someone we can do business with and will be inviting him to Shetland as soon as his diary allows so that we can share some of the progress that we have made and also highlight our concerns for the future.

“Fishing is a critical element of our economy and society here in Shetland, and it’s hugely important that we don’t harm its prospects when it is growing again after many difficult years.”