Building a New Scotland: Our marine sector in an independent Scotland

This paper sets out the Scottish Government's vision for the marine sector in an independent Scotland.


This paper – like others in the Building a New Scotland series – is intended to give people in Scotland the information they need to make an informed choice about independence. This paper focuses on the current value of Scotland’s seas and its “marine sector”, the economic and social benefits they provide, and sets out the case for the powers of independence so the sector can reach its full potential.

“Marine sector” is defined in this paper as the marine, coastal and freshwater environment of Scotland and marine industries it supports,[1] as well as the people connected to it. The definition includes the legislation, the policies and programmes, and the international commitments that determine its management. It also covers the underpinning scientific research that provides information and data for evidence-informed policy development and to evaluate success.

Independence would mean that Scotland’s Parliament and Government would – for the first time – have the powers they need to help our marine sector achieve its full potential.

This paper has five sections.

‘Scotland’s seas and our marine sector’ explains the size and value of Scotland’s marine sector and its contribution to the wider economy and job creation. It also considers the opportunities the sector provides to help meet our Net Zero commitments, and tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

‘The case for change’ sets out the impacts of a Brexit taken forward against the wishes of the majority of people in Scotland expressed in the 2016 referendum, and the limitations of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It also considers the constraints of the current constitutional settlement, and the impact of actions taken by successive UK Governments on Scottish marine interests.

‘Our vision for independence and approach to delivery’ sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to independence and the marine sector. It explores the range of benefits provided by EU membership – such as full and free access to the European Single Market for Scottish seafood exports and freedom of movement to provide access to labour and support inward migration to our coastal and island communities.

‘Future opportunities for our marine sector’ considers the influence that Scotland – based on our marine resources, expertise and values – could expect to wield in EU institutions. It discusses the ability we would have to negotiate an equitable share of EU funding programmes and help shape current and future EU law. Finally, it looks at the opportunities that Scotland would have to engage and negotiate with international partners and forums, including on emerging global agendas around the so-called ‘blue economy’ and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.

The final section offers conclusions and closing remarks.



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