A report issued by the Scottish government to mark five years since the Brexit referendum notes ‘immediate, severe and visible impacts’ on the Scottish seafood sector as a consequence of the UK’s departure from the EU. 

‘The Brexit Referendum Five Years On – Summary of Impacts to Date Information Note from the Scottish Government’ states: “According to HMRC, UK exports of food and live animals to the EU, which includes seafood and fish, decreased by £1.2bn (34%) 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 makes the case that ‘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 adds: “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.

“Over 70% of Scottish seafood exports were to the EU in 2019, worth over £770m. Following sharp falls in fish exports to EU countries in January 2021, February and March figures showed some signs of recovery. But April’s trade figures suggested any recovery was slowing down. Total UK exports of fish in 2021 were 27% lower than in the first four months of 2018.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.


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