Scottish salmon producers defy border chaos with record EU exports

Scotland’s salmon farmers exported a record volume of fresh fish to E.U. markets in the first-quarter of 2021, overcoming the significant post-Brexit supply disruptions experienced in the first weeks of the year.

According to figures compiled by the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) – from information supplied by all of the country’s salmon producers – some 19,410 metric tons (MT) of fish, worth more than GBP 100 million (USD 116 million, EUR 141 million), were exported to the E.U. in Q1 2021. This volume represented an increase of more than 8,200 MT or 74 percent over the corresponding period of last year.

SSPO highlighted that “intense competition in the marketplace” meant that while the volume was up, the value did not increase at a corresponding rate, adding that the figures reflect the “extensive preparation and additional resources” that the Scottish salmon sector allocated to maintain the smooth and efficient supply process that it previously enjoyed.

SSPO Chief Executive Tavish Scott said that additional bureaucracy, paperwork, delays, and confusion arising from Brexit left salmon farmers incurring costs of at least GBP 11 million (USD 12.8 million, EUR 15.5 million), but that he remains confident that 2021 will be a strong year for the sector.

“This is a great result for the Scottish salmon farmers and the Scottish economy. As the country and companies start to bounce back from the huge problems presented by COVID, these figures show the worth of the salmon sector as an economic driver for Scotland, aiding the country’s renewal through job creation and tax revenues,” Scott said. “Salmon farmers remain vulnerable to the problems caused by Brexit. Export volumes to the E.U. may well be up for the first-quarter of the year, but increased delays in getting products to our E.U. markets have kept values low."

Scott added that the SSPO “will continue to work with the U.K. and Scottish governments to find ways to streamline red tape and ensure our members can offer their customers the certainty of getting fresh, nutritious fish to E.U. markets on time.”

Meanwhile, the U.K. government has confirmed that the Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce, which was set up earlier this year to improve export systems following Brexit, is to be disbanded.

Following its seventh meeting on Friday, 14 May, U.K. Government Minister for Scotland David Duguid said the taskforce had tackled problems which affected the seafood sector since Britain’s exit from the E.U., many relating to paperwork now required by the E.U.

“Rapid progress has been made in a variety of areas through this taskforce. In particular, we have considerably cut the amount of time staff spend filling in details on Export Health Certificates, helping speed time-critical exports of our world-class seafood,” Duguid said. “Although the taskforce has a fixed lifespan, we are looking at how we can continue this important dialogue. We want to maintain close contacts, though we appreciate people in the industry are busy. I am confident we can reach accord on ongoing discussions as we seek to maximize the opportunities for our key seafood sector.”

The taskforce brought together industry experts from the catching, processing, exporting, and aquaculture sectors as well as three ministers from the U.K. and Scottish governments.

It will meet for one final time in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of richardjohnson/Shutterstock


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