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Ministers must ‘get a grip’ on export issues, seafood processors say

By PA News

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Ministers in London and Edinburgh need to “get a grip” of the problems facing fishing exports to Europe, the body representing Scottish seafood processors have said.

Seafood exports to Europe have faced delays following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Transport company DFDS has halted exports into the EU as new checks and paperwork are required.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said fishing companies will be compensated for what he called “temporary frustrations”.

Ministers say they are trying to resolve the issues with exports (Jane Barlow/PA)
Ministers say they are trying to resolve the issues with exports (Jane Barlow/PA)

Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, said they had seen little improvement in the two weeks since the new rules were in place.

He said: “There has been a lot of direct engagement between the industry and ministers and civil servants in recent days, and plenty of soothing words about resolving ‘teething troubles’.

“But these are not minor impediments to trade. The industry in Scotland has basically ground to a halt and businesses that employ hundreds of people in communities around our coastline are losing money.

“In some cases they are close to going under.

“It is time for our governments to get a grip of what is now a full-blown crisis, and fast, before severe and lasting damage is done to the sector.”

World-class food is being unnecessarily wasted. Family businesses are failing
Fergus Ewing

Holyrood Environment Secretary Fergus Ewing called for the UK Government to urgently compensate businesses affected by the delays.

He said: “It is scandalous how Scotland’s seafood sector has been treated since the end of the EU exit transition period.

“Previously booming businesses have been left to rot as a result of extensive bureaucracy forced on them by a poor Brexit deal. Relationships and contracts that have been in place for decades are ending.

“World-class food is being unnecessarily wasted. Family businesses are failing.

“It is imperative that the UK Government acts, and acts now, to provide adequate support to these businesses.”

UK ministers have said they are working to resolve the problems caused by the new trading regime.

Earlier, they accused the Scottish Government of failing to put adequate systems in place to accommodate the required checks at distribution hubs in Scotland.

A spokeswoman said ministers in Edinburgh should not “abdicate their responsibilities to Scottish businesses”.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We have left the Common Fisheries Policy, taken back control of our waters and the agreement we have reached with the EU already secures a 25% transfer of quota from EU to UK vessels over five years, starting with 15% this year.

“Throughout the adjustment period we will invest in our fishing communities and do everything we can to help to rebuild the industry.

“The Prime Minister has already committed to investing £100 million in the UK’s fishing industry and communities and had provided the Scottish Government with nearly £200 million to prepare for disruption for Scottish businesses.

“As the PM said this week we recognise the Scottish fishing industry is facing temporary issues, due to a wide range of factors, following the end of the transition period and we are looking at the additional financial support we can provide to those businesses affected.”

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