Scotland wants seafood Brexit taskforce extension
Scotland Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon is urging the U.K. government to continue to help the nation’s seafood sector to work through the challenges posed by Brexit by extending the life of the Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce.
Speaking ahead of the final meeting of the taskforce on 14 June, Gougeon said she wants U.K. leaders to ensure a forum continues to exist at least until the end of 2021, with an extension allowing issues related to exports to be worked through, and also to prepare for further changes to trade arrangements.
Through the taskforce, the Scottish government has highlighted significant issues facing the sector, including the digitization of export paperwork and the transit of goods from E.U. vessels, she said.
“Six months on from Brexit and the seafood sector is still trying to work through the red tape and barriers to trade imposed by a damaging and last-minute deal,” Gougeon said. “At this crucial point where we are starting to see some hope of recovery, there remains a strong need for a forum where ministers from the U.K. and Scottish governments and industry continue working together to minimize the impact of changes to import regulations. Given the significance of seafood to our national economy and our coastal communities, we are continuing to do all we can to protect the livelihoods of those working in the industry.”
According to Gougeon, support has been provided to more than 800 vessels and 26 aquaculture businesses impacted by COVID-19 and Brexit through the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund.
Funding has also been used to support ports and harbors that have lost landing fees, while welfare advice and Brexit advisers have been made available to assist businesses navigate through the new processes, she said.
The U.K. government-led Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce has been regularly attended by Scottish government ministers and officials, as well as representatives from the Scottish seafood sector, while the Seafood Producers Resilience Fund was set up in February to provide support to eligible shellfish catchers and producers, in addition to trout farmers, who have faced issues exporting to the E.U. and lost access to domestic food markets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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