Brexit: Boris Johnson's fishing deal slammed by Mummery
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In the first four months of 2021, the total quantity shipped to the continent was down 27 percent lower in comparison with the same period of 2018, the document, The Brexit Referendum Five Years On – Summary of Impacts to Date Information Note from the Scottish Government, warned. It stated: “According to HMRC, UK exports of food and live animals to the EU, which includes seafood and fish, decreased by £1.2bn (34 percent) in the first four months of 2021 compared to the equivalent period in 2018, with stricter checks and certifications being one of the main reasons.
“Reports showed that in January 2021, for example, the consignment sign-off was taking six times longer, and that the transit of goods to France was taking three days instead of an overnight transit.
“For some of these sectors, that makes the transaction simply unviable.”
The report claimed the disruption to the seafood sector since early January “offers the clearest evidence so far of the additional costs and losses associated with becoming an EU third country, and the trade frictions that result, including dealing with new and untested processes”.
It added: “Taking account of steps such as investment in upgrades to software and changes in working patterns, the shellfish sector has quoted increased costs of £500-£600 per consignment, regardless of size.
“Issues in the seafood sector are heavily interlinked: a consequence of the deal itself and lack of time to prepare for it, both here and in EU member states.”
More than 70 percent of Scottish seafood exports, worth more than £770 million, were to the European Union in 2019, the report suggested.
It continued: “Following sharp falls in fish exports to EU countries in January 2021, February and March figures showed some signs of recovery.
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“But April’s trade figures suggested any recovery was slowing down.
“Total UK exports of fish in 2021 were 27 percent lower than in the first four months of 2018.”
During a stormy debate in the House of Commons yesterday, MPs claimed the Scottish seafood industry was “drowning in bureaucracy and red tape”, and faces an “existential threat”.
Deidre Brock, SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith: “When damage is done to the industry, it affects not just the crews on the boats but the communities back on land, many of which, certainly in Scotland, are sustained by fishing.
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“Removing the industry will remove the lifeblood from those communities.
“Scotland’s coastal communities could be facing the same devastation in the 2020s that Thatcher’s governments visited upon the industrial towns of Scotland’s central belt.”
Brendan O’Hara, SNP MP for Argyll and Butte, branded Brexit “an existential threat to the industry”.
He claimed Boris Johnson’s trade deal with the EU, signed in December, had resulted in “an industry struggling with falling prices and loss of markets, an industry drowning in bureaucracy and red tape, and one struggling to cope with labour shortages and facing huge transport and logistical problems”.
Victoria Prentis countered by saying: “There is a bright future ahead of us.”
She admitted the last 18 months had been “very difficult” for the industry, but details on an interim quota-swapping scheme have been agreed with the EU and will be announced next week.
She also said the Government has an “effective and intelligence-led enforcement system” for policing UK waters and highlighted the £23 million in compensation provided to the industry and the £100 million fund to “modernise and develop the seafood sector”.
Speaking in April, Scottish Seafood Association chief executive Jimmy Buchan pointed the finger at both the UK and Scottish Governments.
He said: “There have been a lot of promises relating to smoothing the export path post-Brexit, but very few of them have been delivered.
“It is time for both governments to step up to the plate and back up their promises with meaningful action.
“This sector is the backbone of many rural Scottish communities and a source of jobs as well as world-class seafood.
“If we don’t support these businesses and jobs they will be lost to other regions and other countries and they won’t come back.”
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