Scottish seafood industry seeks government support in wake of Brexit fallout

Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has pressed the United Kingdom's government to increase its support for the Scottish seafood sector as it struggles to come to terms with the challenges of trying to export products to European Union markets following the introduction of the new Brexit trade agreement on 1 January.

U.K. exporters have faced lengthy delays in transporting goods to Continental Europe due to the new customs and export certification requirements laid out by the terms of the non-tariff barriers in the trade agreement. With the COVID-19 pandemic already affecting both national and international trade, and also significantly curtailing the hospitality trade, this latest obstacle has caused considerable additional concern for those moving seafood and other perishable products, Ewing said.

Following meetings with seafood businesses and organizations, Ewing has asked for the following:

  • Urgent compensation to be provided to affected; businesses in coastal communities and across Scotland
  • A formal request to be made to the E.U. for a grace period to sort out and simplify the bureaucracy;
  • A streamlining of the bureaucracy that the U.K. government has put in place as a result of the deal, with paperwork and IT systems to be urgently looked at.

“It is scandalous how Scotland’s seafood sector has been treated since the end of the E.U. 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 U.K. government acts, and acts now, to provide adequate support to these businesses,” Ewing said. “Scotland’s food and drink industry is revered globally. We cannot let it suffer any longer. The Scottish government will work constructively with relevant partners to do all we can to support.”

Meanwhile, more than 20 lorries operated by U.K. seafood companies this week descended on Westminster, protesting against the Brexit red tape that they say is either delaying or ruining exports of fresh seafood to the E.U.

Trucks with slogans including “Brexit carnage” and “Incompetent government destroying shellfish industry” parked meters from government offices on Downing Street on Monday, 18 January, but they stopped short of carrying out a threat to dump fresh fish close to the prime minister’s official residence.

Amid the protests, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged GBP 23 million (USD 31.3 million, EUR 25.8 million) to help businesses affected by the Brexit delays. Details of the scheme will be announced in the coming days, according to Johnson.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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