Seafood import, export guidance issued for “no deal” Brexit

Seafood importers and exporters in the United Kingdom have been told how catch certificates and export health certificates (EHCs) would operate if the country leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement in place.

Compiled by U.K trade body Seafish in response to enquiries from the industry, the advice relates to how catch certificates and EHCs will operate in the event of the so-called “no deal” scenario.

According to Seafish, the new catch certificate advice and changes to the EHC system may provide some flexibility for seafood imported to the United Kingdom from the E.U. and also for products exported to the bloc. 

A catch certificate and supporting documents will be required, which must be validated by the country of export, for most consignments of wild-caught seafood imported from the E.U. or elsewhere and for direct landings of non-U.K. caught fishery products. 

If the seafood imported to the United Kingdom has been stored, then a storage document from the exporter will be required. And if the seafood has been processed, a processing statement from the exporter is required that must be filled in by the processor and endorsed by the authority in the country of processing. 

To ensure efficient clearance of a consignment, the original paper catch certificate to the port of entry in advance or at the time of the consignment’s arrival should be provided. If this is not possible, the importer should check with the port of entry, with Seafish advising that some ports may agree to release consignments if they are supplied with electronic catch certificate documents, provided that hard copies of those documents follow.

Catch certificates are not needed to import aquaculture products, freshwater products, oysters, mussels, clams, scallops and abalone, or fish sauce. But Seafish adds that importers should ensure that accompanying commercial documents contain information to support the claim that no catch certificate is required, such as evidence that the product is of aquaculture origin.

With regards to the EHC system changes, exporters can now apply for blocks of EHCs to be held by local authorities (LAs) or official veterinarians (OVs) ready for export, as required. 

Issuing blocks of serially numbered EHCs to LAs/OVs in advance, will help when certificates are required at pace, said Seafish. 

The block certification system intends to provide exporters with the flexibility to choose what works best for their business, i.e. flexibility to change BIP, destination, and consignment information. Block certificates can be requested by indicating the number of certificates required on the relevant EHC application form. 

To complete a block EHC application, as a minimum, exporters must provide both the exporter’s name as consignor, and the exporter’s nominated certifying officer (EHO/OV) as the EHCs will be delivered to the nominated authorized signatory.

The remaining information can be completed at the point of certification. Any additional information provided at the point of application will be entered on all certificates (e.g. destination) which can be edited later.

A new certification system is to be launched in summer 2019 to make applying for EHCs easier. Therefore, current arrangements are only expected to be in place for a few months.

Last week, the United Kingdom and the E.U. agreed to a variable extension to Article 50 to delay Brexit. If Prime Minister Theresa May gets her deal through Parliament on the third attempt then Brexit will happen with a deal on 22 May. If she doesn’t, Parliament will only have until 12 April to consider alternative options. 

The United Kingdom has also been informed that if it wants a longer delay, it would need to take part in the European elections in May.


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