Scottish salmon farmers have experienced delays, reputational damage through unreliable deliveries and price falls in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation has told a committee of Westminster MPs. The SSPO is confident, however, that if the problems at the border can be resolved, sales volumes and revenue can return to pre-Brexit levels.
The SSPO’s comments were submitted as evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, which has called for evidence as part of its inquiry into seafood and meat exports to the EU. The MPs are looking at what caused the delays in exporting to the continent; the impact of the new customs and other requirements on seafood and meat exports to the EU; and how the UK Government is, and should be, supporting them.
The SSPO’s evidence states that Scotland’s salmon farmers had prepared “extensively” to ensure they were ready for the post-Brexit trading arrangements. Member companies’ initial problems arose, the organisation said, “…from being grouped in with other parts of the seafood sector who were less ready to deal with the complex export paperwork requirements and a lack of efficiency in processes at distribution hubs.”
Adding to this problem were IT system failures, problems with communications between some hauliers, certifiers and exporters, inconsistency at Border Control Posts (BCPs), and a lack of knowledge and understanding of post-Transition Period requirements from EU-based traders.
As a result, the SSPO said, delivery times have become unreliable and, as longer transit periods mean the product is less fresh, market prices for Scottish seafood have been lower than they would otherwise have been.
The SSPO believes that the difficulties can be fixed if the non-tariff barriers that came into place following the end of the Brexit transition period can be addressed and dealt with.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of the SSPO said: “We continue to call on the UK Government to do everything within its power to minimise bureaucracy and non-tariff barriers with the aim of securing an acceptable “new normal” of Day 1 for Day 2 delivery and a streamlined system to deal with additional bureaucracy for UK-EU trade arising from EU exit.
“Moreover, the UK Government should make good on its intentions to deliver the ‘world’s most effective border by 2025’. We have also asked for the UK Government to negotiate a ‘grace period’ to phase in new paperwork requirements – akin to those secured for goods movements between the British mainland and Northern Ireland – in the recent past.”
The deadline for comments to the EFRA Committee closed today.