Daily Management Review

Scottish Sea Food Firms Set To Face Crisis Because Of Brexit Delays And Costs


Scottish Sea Food Firms Set To Face Crisis Because Of Brexit Delays And Costs
The impact of Brexit is already being felt by Scottish seafood firms who claimed that delays and costs because of Brexit in exporting fresh seafood and salmon to Europe has put their businesses in a crisis.
The new export regulations and procedures have forced seafood exporters and fishers of the region to either suspended exports of live seafood and fresh fish or have their orders cancelled by customers or have been unable to put their produce to market on time.
The new Brexit export rules mandate that each and every box of fresh seafood and salmon has to be offloaded from trucks for inspection of the produce by vets prior to leaving Scotland and therefore at least more than £1bn to Scottish businesses is on the brink of collapse, according to some analysts. Trade bodies said that the above process of inspection took at least  five hours per lorry to get completed.
“Our customers are pulling out. [We] are fresh product and the customers expect to have it fresh, so they’re not buying. It’s a catastrophe,” Santiago Buesa, of SB Fish in Troon, Ayrshire, told the media.
Scottish companies said that hundreds of pounds in costs have been added to every shipment because of the additional paperwork, the export certificates and Covid-19 tests for drivers. It used to take just 24 hours for Scottish exporters to take their fresh salmon fillets, live langoustine, crabs, mussels and scallops to the main fish market in Boulogne prior to the setting of Brexit.
Lorries carrying the fresh seafood had to be diverted via Dunkirk because of computer problems at the port in Boulogne on Tuesday which led to the products not being able ot reach the market on time. With sales worth £221m in 2019, the largest overseas market for Scottish salmon is France.
Earlier in the week, shipments took three days to arrive in Boulogne because of the Brexit related complications, said James Cook, at the seafood firm D R Collins & Sons in Eyemouth near Berwick. He was contemplating halting fishing and suspending exports. 
“Normally we’d have had maybe three lorries a day leaving Eyemouth. We’ve had to suspend everything,” Cook told BBC Radio Scotland. “Trading in Europe has now become a lottery and it’s a form of gambling, so you have to be very, very brave to put all your resources and energy into trying [to] press a button and find out that you don’t even pass the first hurdle. It’s a total loss of confidence.”
Ways of streamlining of the process were being worked out by the industry, customs officials, Food Standards Scotland and the Scottish government, said James Withers, chief executive of the trade body Scotland Food and Drink.
“There is a major collective effort to work through all this between industry and government. That is critical because the knock-on effect of disruption is significant and can grind the seafood supply chain, from fishing boats to haulage, to a halt very quickly,” Withers said.
“On the back of a horrendous 2020 and a nightmare before Christmas due to the French border closure, the financial impact of that would be grave for many.”