31 May 2017

(S5O-01045) Inshore Fisheries (Unlicensed Commercial Fishing)

7. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what action it has taken to protect inshore fisheries against unlicensed commercial fishing. (S5O-01045)

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity (Fergus Ewing): Measures under the Shellfish (Restrictions on Taking by Unlicensed Fishing Boats) (Scotland) Order 2017 came into force on 17 April and place restrictions on the quantities of shellfish that unlicensed fishing boats can take. The measures support the right of people to enjoy fishing as a hobby, establishing daily catch limits to provide clarity and tackle the issue of unlicensed, illegal commercial fishing that is conducted under the guise of hobby fishing. To enforce them, Marine Scotland compliance uses rigid inflatable boats and conducts regular inshore patrols.

Stewart Stevenson: I thank the cabinet secretary for advising us of that order, which I am sure will be welcomed. I assert that our inshore fisheries play an important part in our rural economy and supply absolutely superb food. Will the recently announced pilots seek to improve fisheries and will they help us to make further improvements to support our coastal communities?

Fergus Ewing: Yes, I believe that the pilots will. We want to see our fishermen and communities make the most of our inshore resource, which is what the recently announced inshore fisheries pilots aim to achieve. They will explore two different management approaches to determine what works in delivering greater economic, social and environmental benefits to coastal communities and our rural economy, and they will explore a more localised approach to fisheries management, in which fisheries interests work together to develop distinct arrangements that meet their needs.

The learning from the pilots will inform a more strategic approach to managing inshore fisheries, to ensure that we make the most of our valuable inshore waters, and they will inform work on the future of fisheries management in Scotland in the next few years.

18 May 2017

(S5O-01005) Infrastructure Investment (North-east Scotland)

7. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what infrastructure investment it has made in the north-east since 2007, and what future investment it has planned to make the area better connected. (S5O-01005)

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work (Keith Brown): Since 2007, the Scottish Government has invested in major projects within the north-east, including the Aberdeen western peripheral route Balmedie to Tipperty road scheme, the emergency care centre in Aberdeen and significant investment in school buildings, including the completion of 16 new schools across the region.

Our recent infrastructure investment plan progress update highlighted that major infrastructure projects within the north-east region totalling more than £1.3 billion are currently in construction or estimated to be in construction during this year alone.

Looking forward, we have infrastructure investment planned for the Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements, the A96 dualling programme between Inverness and Aberdeen and the A90-A96 Haudagain junction improvement.

We also have the digital Scotland superfast broadband programme to extend fibre broadband access to at least 95 per cent of premises in Scotland by the end of 2017 and 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage by 2021. Finally, we will also invest £125 million in the Aberdeen city region deal and a further £254 million in north-east infrastructure over the same five to 10-year period.

Stewart Stevenson: I very much welcome the investment of more than £1 billion in the north-east. In particular, upgrading the A96 will be a huge boost. However, is the cabinet secretary aware of environmental concern about one of the proposed routes east of Inverurie? How does he intend to respond to the concerns in relation to Bennachie?

Keith Brown: I am very well aware of the concerns that Stewart Stevenson mentions—not least because of representations received from Gillian Martin and from others. I have made it clear to Transport Scotland that I want to be able to demonstrate the utmost regard for the environment, particularly the popular local site that he has mentioned at Bennachie. That should be taken into account, as is consistent with the process that he will know that we have to go through. As with all road schemes, meaningful engagement with communities forms a key part of our work as we develop our plans. We expect the next stage of our design and assessment process to start later this summer, so he should be reassured that the concerns expressed by the save Bennachie campaign and others in the area will be carefully considered and taken into account.

16 May 2017

Statement: Global Ransomware Incident

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh): The next item of business is a statement by Shona Robison on the impact on and response by the national health service in Scotland to the global ransomware incident. The cabinet secretary will take questions at the end of her statement, so there should be no interventions or interruptions.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): Given that the opportunity for the cyberattack lay in a vulnerability in obsolete software and, critically, the publicising of that vulnerability, will the cabinet secretary consider whether it would be appropriate to have a database that gives us knowledge of the use of obsolete software in public services and, therefore, enables us to target news of potential vulnerabilities of which we become aware at the appropriate people before potential attacks?

Shona Robison: Stewart Stevenson makes an important point. In response to Donald Cameron, I made the point that this is not about one type of software. The ransomware appears to have affected a number of different software and has particularly impacted on GP practices, rather than on acute hospitals, with NHS Lanarkshire being the exception.

We need to understand a bit more about what lies underneath the more vulnerable areas, because there appears to be a different pattern in different places—we need to understand all that more readily before we decide what action to take. The national cyberresilience leaders board, which is meeting today, chaired by my colleague, Michael Matheson, has the requisite experts and we will draw on further experts, so I can assure Stewart Stevenson that the recommendations that we take forward on how we make our systems more resilient will be based on the best available advice that we can find.

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