Politics

Brexit fishing row: EU requires UK firms show SEVEN export documents for a single lorry

Brexit: Boris Johnson promises fishing changes by 2026

Under strict new rules, firms must fill out seven documents just to send a single lorry of goods across the Channel. Each shipment has to be accompanied by a catch certificate, customs export declaration, health certificate, endangered species permit, common health entry document, storage document and processing statement.

This week saw seafood lorries from Scotland and Devon descend on Westminster to protest against the red tape.

One company boss warned “the system could potentially collapse” if ministers did not intervene to roll back some of the requirements.

In a bid to explain the rules to the industry, the Government’s Marine Management Organisation published a 33-point flowchart on how UK suppliers can send their catch to the EU, effective from January 1.

Lorry drivers carrying a mixed load risk being held up at ports if just one box of fish does not have the correct paperwork.

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Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, told of how one driver carrying a single species of catch needs seven separate forms to get the goods through crossings.

He told the Daily Mail: “Therein lies where errors start to happen on a system no one had any experience on.

“It was chaos. But we’re week three and we are moving fish.

“We’ve known for two years that outside the customs union, there’d be new documents. What the problem was, was that our negotiators negotiated a bad deal.”

Mr Buchan’s scathing review of the trade deal London negotiated with Brussels comes after fishing bosses accused the Prime Minister of selling out the industry.

Boris Johnson has attempted to empathise with those affected by the shift in rules, saying he “understands the frustrations” of exporters.

He claimed Covid curbs were partly to blame for the problems blighting the flow of fish from the UK to the EU.

He told Sky News: “Unfortunately, the demand in restaurants on the continent for UK fish has not been what it was before the pandemic.”

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On Wednesday the Prime Minister claimed British fishers should prepare for an “El Dorado” despite many experiencing difficulties post-Brexit.

He blamed “complications over form-filling” for the “barriers” some fishers are facing, but told MPs things will improve and fabulous riches await.

Speaking in the Commons, Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw pressed Mr Johnson on his previous pledge that there would not be new export barriers for companies.

Mr Johnson responded: “It is absolutely true that some British fishermen have faced barriers at the present time owing to complications over form-filling and indeed one of the biggest problems is that, alas, there is a decline in appetite for fish in continental markets just because most of the restaurants, as he knows, are shut.

Dominic Raab reveals ‘£100 million boost’ for fishing industry

“The reality is that Brexit will deliver and is delivering a huge uplift in quota, already the next five years, and by 2026 the fishing people of this country will have access to all the fish in all the territorial waters of this country.

“To get them ready for that El Dorado, we’re investing £100 million in improving our boats, our fish processing industry and getting fishing ready for the opportunities ahead.”

The Metropolitan Police said 14 people had been issued with fines for breaching Covid rules by taking part in the fishing protest in Westminster on Monday.

Mark Moore, manager of the Dartmouth Crab Company, said his firm took part to “raise awareness” of the impact of new border checks.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s not about the increased documentation per se.

“We have taken that on board, and we ourselves – and I know many others – have had no issues with producing the actual paperwork.

“It’s the volume required and the timeframe in which to produce it, which doesn’t lend itself to live shellfish and fish generally.”

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