Scottish salmon faces “huge, unnecessary burdens” through Brexit deal, warns industry body

The Brexit deal being pursued by the United Kingdom's government could significantly undermine the Scottish salmon sector by requiring exporters to secure health certificates to send products to E.U. markets, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has warned.

At present, because of the free movement of goods within the E.U., Scottish salmon shipments do not require export health certificates (EHCs). However, the SSPO fears this ability will change, saying that it now appears inevitable that these exports will need EHCs after the end of this year, when the transition phase is over.

In financial terms, the cost of this change for Scottish farmed salmon will be between GBP 1.3 million (USD 1.7 million, EUR 1.5 million) and GBP 8.7 million (USD 11.3 million, EUR 10.3 million) annually, depending on the amount charged by councils for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per truckload, it said.

SSPO also estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 EHCs will need to be processed and signed each year, with each document needing the signature of an environmental health officer or a vet.

“The addition of an export health certificate for every order of salmon to the E.U. would place huge unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burdens on our sector – potentially undermining one of the U.K.’s biggest modern export success stories,” SSPO Chief Executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said. “About 300 salmon orders are dispatched to the E.U. every day by road and through the Channel Tunnel. If each one – or even each lorry load – had to have an extra certificate, signed by a vet or an environmental health officer, it would not only add delays and cost to Scottish salmon exports, it would give our international competitors an advantage they would be unlikely to pass up.”

Hesketh-Laird said the trade body is appealing to the U.K. government to make addressing this issue a priority in its negotiations with the E.U.

“We want both sides to commit to allow seafood trade to the E.U. to continue as it now, without the imposition of any new tariff or non-tariff barriers and we want U.K. ministers to call for this in negotiations,” Hesketh-Laird said.

Specifically, SSPO is asking the U.K. government to:

  • Stay aligned with the E.U. on seafood exports after the end of the transition period so no EHCs will be needed;
  • Make the transportation of seafood to the E.U. without EHCs a key condition in negotiations over the future trading arrangement between the U.K. and the E.U.;
  • Accelerate the process, already started by the U.K. Animal and Plant Health Agency, to digitalize the EHC process, making it swifter and simpler;
  • Negotiate for the continued tariff-free access to the E.U. for Scottish salmon after the end of the transition period.

In 2019, Scottish salmon exports totaled 94,000 metric tons (MT), with a value of GBP 618 million (USD 802.3 million, EUR 734.8 million).  

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Atkins/Shutterstock 


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