Foreword from the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
In this paper we set out the opportunities that independence would provide for Scotland’s marine sector – our marine environment, the industries and communities that depend upon it and the laws and science that support its management – building on the progress that has been achieved since devolution and the tangible economic and environmental benefits this has delivered across the country.
The sector’s potential is vast. It can create new jobs and bring prosperity to coastal and island locations and to the wider supply chain. It can help communities to survive and thrive, contributing to stopping or reversing depopulation. It can be a source of clean, green energy to power Scotland’s future.
But our marine environment and natural resources are also under pressure like never before, particularly from the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. Bold and ambitious decision-making is needed. These are historic challenges that we simply have to meet for this and future generations.
Our seas are also under threat in a political sense. As this paper sets out, the UK Government has shown itself to be dismissive of Scotland’s unique needs and willing to take actions that put our marine economy and environment at risk, reduce opportunities for partnership working and scientific collaboration, and diminish our influence in Europe and the world. Scotland deserves better than that.
We cannot afford to be bystanders and hope that others will take decisions in Scotland’s interests or meet these challenges for us.
To meet those challenges, Scotland must have a voice on the issues and laws that affect us and must have the full powers that can only come with independence.
Other nations – including those that are of a similar size or smaller than Scotland – take responsibility for their marine interests and are also able to form partnerships as equals to tackle shared challenges. So why not Scotland?
There are important choices ahead for Scotland’s seas and some of the decisions that will need to be made will not be easy.
I believe, however, that those decisions should be made by those with the greatest stake in them and those who will be most affected by them – the people of Scotland – and with the outcomes of those decisions delivered by communities, industry and government in Scotland in partnership.
For Scotland as a nation, and for our marine sector, the opportunities are unprecedented. I look forward to constructive debate about the vital role independence will play in delivering those opportunities.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
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