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Seafood Exporters Facing Disastrous Delays to EU Markets

Seafood exporters are facing a disaster as border delays and increased paperwork has hit their exports to the EU. Scottish salmon is the UK’s largest food export and inshore fishing is vital to the sustainability of many of Scotland’s coastal and island communities

SNP MSP Maree Todd, who represents the Highlands and Islands region has called for the UK Government to take immediate action to rectify the situation at UK ports, following reports that fish and seafood exporters are experiencing extensive delays due to post-Brexit bureaucracy. The coastal and island communities of the Highlands and Islands has been hit extremely hard by this recent disaster for their sector coming as the industry tries to recover from the economic calamity of covid.

Maree Todd, said:

“Many livelihoods in our islands are reliant on fisheries, which is why I am so deeply concerned to hear of the backlogs and delays currently being experienced at various borders.

“We were promised ‘frictionless trade’ by the UK government, yet here we are, two weeks after Brexit, and one of our most valuable food exports are under threat.”

Some of the issues exporters are facing at various borders include excessive sampling for Export Health Certificates, a lack of Environmental Health Officers (EHO) present at the border and EHO’s inappropriate working hours. This red tape is leading to overnight delays, causing tonnes of perishable goods wasted and millions of pounds lost as a result.

The leaders of all of Scotland’s main food and drink bodies – including Scotland Food and Drink (SF&D), the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) and Seafood Scotland (SS) – wrote to the Prime Minister in November appealing for a gradual implementation period for the new rules, but without success.

They now believe the Brexit deal, which was agreed by the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve: just a week before the new regulations came into effect, gave businesses no time to prepare for the huge changes necessary to get produce to the continent.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the SSPO, said:

“Had a deal been concluded even a couple of months ago, that would have given our producers and hauliers the time to test out the new systems, trial the paperwork and get everything in place.

“As it is, we have had lorry loads of salmon stuck in Scotland, waiting for the right paperwork, we have seen delays in France because of IT problems in bringing in whole new systems and confusion everywhere.

“Our members are resourceful and have been trying everything they can to get fish to customers in Europe, including new routes, but every delay forces the price of our product down and hands the initiative to our international competitors.”

Industry experts such as the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance have described the current situation as ‘unacceptable’ and a threat to the livelihoods of those working in the fishing industry and its supply chains.

Seafood Scotland have also warned that “in a very short time, we could see the destruction of centuries old market which contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.”

Donna Fordyce, Chief Executive of Seafood Scotland, said:

“All our producers have been working incredibly hard to work through all the extra red tape which has been put in place since January 1 but it is an almost impossible task given the lack of preparation time.

“The UK Government has to realise the enormous difficulties that have been placed in the way of exporters simply because there wasn’t a workable system in place by the end of Brexit transition, despite numerous warnings that there would be issues.”

In 2018, it was estimated that fish and seafood exports were worth around £944 million to Scotland’s economy.

Maree Todd said:

“Unfortunately, this debacle confirms what we already knew, Brexit will and is causing serious and lasting damage to jobs and businesses across the Highlands & Islands, at a time where unemployment is already soaring.

“The UK government must act immediately to rectify the issues at the border and ensure seamless trade for exporters.”

credit Bell

Fishing- The Good, The Bad, And What Is Yet To Come

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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6 replies »

  1. I noticed on TV news that Jimmy Buchan didn’t seem quite so chipper compared to his union rag waving cruise up the Thames with Farage, maybe now he realises the extent of the lies he was fed by him, Bojo, Gove et al. I also wonder if the NHS has received its £700 million (two weeks payment) as splashed across their big red bus????

    I also wonder how many of those who voted for Brexit now regret the misery that they’ve brought to the 62% who voted to remain, warts and all.

  2. It makes you wonder how much chaos and distress independence would cause not to mention the economic hardship it would inflict on the average Scot.

    • The reason we need independence is to get away from this totally inept uk gov. There was absolutely no reason for all this chaos if the uk gov had asked for a time extension to get the agreement in place so that businesses could organize, instead of waiting till the 11th hour where businesses were left in the dark till the last moment. As anyone can see the Scottish gov, have done a much better job in the covid situation and I have every faith that they would do a better job of looking after Scotland when we become independent.💙🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    • Chaos and distress, caused by an inept government, we did not vote to leave the EU and yet we (Scotland) are the ones who are suffering, Bojo and his wealthy, corrupt, greedy, bloodsucking cronies are destroying Scotland “Stay together” No, its time Scotland got independence and freedom from this unhealthy union.

  3. I take it you have no interest in our failing education system, our failing police service and our neglected industrial base, or do you simply turn a blind eye. Independence at any price is worth consigning future generations to real austerity and economic uncertainty.

  4. Independence, although it would logically also come with some price tag, may have prevented future generations prospects of austerity and economic uncertainty.
    I am sure that ‘any’ (not necessarily SNP) Scottish government would not have bulldozed through with the end of the transition period in these dire times of a pandemic and sold us a ‘deal’ which isn’t worth the paper it’s written on (which we are just finding out).
    Besides, whilst improvements in many policy areas are needed and Scotland’s education system (like systems elsewhere in Europe and beyond) could be improved, I am in a position that I can directly compare with the system in other European countries (i.e. Germany, Italy and Austria) and I must say, the Scottish system is fairer, far more open and inclusive and more flexible and adaptable to individual students’ needs and potential. In fact, there is a lot, other countries could learn from the Scottish approach.

    Austerity and economic downturn are inevitable now… but this is at least in part due to a pandemic, which no country in the world (apart from New Zealand) has handled well, and a botched Brexit for which – if I remember correctly – 62% of the Scottish population did not vote.

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