SSPO calls for urgent reform of export red tape

Tavish Scott

Scotland’s salmon farmers are spending £200,000 each month on extra paperwork following the end of the Brexit transition period. So says the Scottish Salmon Producers Association which is calling for urgent reform of the export health certificates regime to cut down on red tape.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), said there was an urgent need for the Export Health Certificate (EHC) to be re-designed.

Scottish salmon producers have had to cope with significant delays since the Brexit transition period ended on January 1 and the full effects of Brexit came into for.

The SSPO said that despite improvements since January when it was taking many hours – and sometimes days – to process orders of seafood for the continent, orders are still being held up because of the bureaucracy of the extra paperwork.

It now takes about two hours for each seafood load to be processed and given an export health certificate for transport to the EU and, in some case, this process is taking four hours or longer.

These delays mean salmon is not arriving in France on time, leading to lost orders, discounted sales and disgruntled customers.

One of the biggest problems with the certificate, according to the SSPO, is that numerous boxes have to be crossed out by certifying officers, scoring out all products which the supplier is not exporting to the EU. This often leads to confusion and mistakes, causing delays both in the UK and at the EU border posts.

Tavish Scott has asked the UK Government to look into this issue as a matter of urgency and he raised the issue personally with Michael Gove, the UK Government’s Brexit Cabinet minister, on a recent call.

Scott said he had received a verbal assurance from Gove that the UK Government would look to redesign, redraw and simplify the export certificate, which can run to dozens of pages for each order.

Tavish Scott is a member of the Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce, which also includes representation from the UK and Scottish governments. The Taskforce was set up to find ways to address the problems that have arisen since the UK left the EU Single Market.

Scottish salmon is the UK’s biggest food export and provides direct employment for 2,500 people and supports at least 10,000 jobs in the processing and supply chain. The export holdups have also affected other fish and shellfish producers.