Serious delays at cross channel ports to markets in the EU are causing major problems for Scotland’s successful salmon sector.
Salmon Scotland which represents the industry has called on the UK Government to introduce immediate contingency plans for perishable goods to have priority status when delays occur at peak times such as the summer holidays.
Currently the EU accounts for 61% of the volume of global Scottish salmon exports worth £372m. The value of exports of Scottish Salmon worldwide in 2021 was £614million.
Scottish salmon competes in the European marketplace with Norway, which has no disruption to its exports to EU countries. Norway is not in the EU but it is in the EEA (European Economic Area) giving it free access to the markets of the 27 EU countries.
The EEA agreement brings together the 27 EU member states and the three EEA EFTA states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein in the internal market, governed by the same basic rules. It guarantees the EU Single Market’s four freedoms, as well as non-discrimination and equal rules of competition throughout the EEA area.The EEA Agreement
The UK is not a member of the EEA and countries which are have access to the world’s largest Free Trade area. The UK is also not a member of EFTA which also has trading advantages over the UK – now outside of all these agreements. This means that at Border crossings exporters from the UK now have to have all the documentation required as a Third Country trading with the EU. Free movement of people has also gone so when there is a lot of holiday makers from the UK wishing to use the Cross Channel ports, the existing delays become intolerable. As a perishable product any delay to the transportation of Scottish Salmon is extremely serious.
The Scottish Salmon sector directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and supports more than 3,600 suppliers, with a further 10,000 jobs dependent on farm-raised salmon.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, wrote to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on July 7th to highlight the challenges on the UK side of the Channel crossing – and a face-to-face meeting was held in Shetland on August 2nd with the UK Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis.
Victoria Prentis is the Conservative Member of Parliament for the inland English constituency of North Oxfordshire.
During the visit Victoria Prentis also met with salmon producers Scottish Sea Farms and Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, which together make up around 20% of Shetland’s economy.
Tavish Scott said:
“This meeting was a welcome opportunity to set out the challenges currently facing salmon exporters and the risk to the Scottish and UK economies unless urgent action is taken.
“As the UK’s biggest food export, it is vital for jobs in Scotland and for the UK economy that we avoid any hold-ups at the Channel.
“Fresh Scottish salmon is perishable and needs to arrive with customers as quickly as possible.
“We have urged the UK Government to prioritise the movement of perishable goods. Following today’s constructive meeting, we are hopeful of swift action.”