POLITICIANS from across the party divide have added their names to a pledge to protect and support Scotland's coastal communities and the country's fishing industry.

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP representatives have all signed the pledge recognising the role of the fishing industry in food security, the importance of protecting access to key fishing grounds, and the industry's contribution to providing low carbon, healthy and nutritious foods.

It has received the backing of more than 50 MSPs and three party leaders.

The pledge was made after an exhibition and campaign by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation was put on show at the Scottish Parliament.

Though the Ayrshire fishing industry is much smaller than it once was, there remains an active fleet working out of ports including Girvan, Troon and Largs.

Mairi Gougeon, cabinet secretary for rural affairs, land reform and islands, said: “The spirit and vitality of our fishing industry and coastal communities is something of which we should all be rightly proud, and which is powerfully captured by this exhibition. 

“The Scottish fishing industry is world renowned and remains at the forefront of sustainable fishing practices. It helps support many jobs around the country and is embedded in our culture.

“The Scottish Government shares the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation’s vision of a fishing industry that endures and thrives.

“Through robust evidence and marine planning we will continue to work with all sectors to manage the increased competition for our shared marine space, supporting commitments to net zero, protection of the marine environment, energy security, food security, and thriving communities.”

More than half of all backbench MSPs have signed the pledge, which has also received the backing of Anas Sarwar, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Douglas Ross, Scottish leaders of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives respectively, and of senior figures from the SNP and Alba.

Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the SFF, said: “It has been heartening to see so many MSPs and their teams engage very positively with us over the last few days.

“Given Scotland’s geography, many have coastal fishing communities within their constituencies and know first hand of the pressures that they – and the industry as a whole – has been under in recent years.

"It was great also to have MSPs from more urban and inland parts of Scotland recognise the importance of our sector, and to give us their support.

“Fishing has a vital role in food security and the country’s net zero aspirations – and the provision of sustainably sourced and low-carbon protein has never been more vital.

“This exhibition taps into the inherent pride and responsibility that those working in fishing feel and whilst there will always be things we can improve on, it is characterised by responsible, innovative businesses seeking to improve conditions for the next generation.”

Following its debut, the exhibition will be available for tour across towns, schools, museums and other public facilities around the country. 

The full exhibition and case studies are now available to view on the SFF website at sff.co.uk/news/category/pride-in-the-seas.