February 19, 2021

A new fund, launched by the UK Government, will cover up to €115,351 of losses per business caused by delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the European Union during January 2021.

The UK-wide Seafood Disruption Support Scheme will provide up to €26.5 million of financial assistance. The fund will be paid retrospectively to cover losses incurred between January 1-31.

Alongside the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme, the UK Government has been offering targeted support to help exporters with new processes. This includes the Seafood Exports Working Group, meeting twice a week to troubleshoot issues raised by the industry; and a newly established Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force.

Meeting for the first time this month, the taskforce will draw together government officials and industry representatives from the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors to specifically driving forward the seafood sector in Scotland.

The fishing and seafood sector is also set to benefit from significant government investment with a €115.3m fund to help modernise fishing fleets.

The Seafood Disruption Support Scheme is administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Fisheries Minister Victoria Prentis said: “Seafood exporting businesses across the UK can apply for support from this €26.5m scheme, reflecting the unique challenges faced by the sector.

“We will continue to work closely with the fisheries and seafood industry through our Seafood Exports Working Group to troubleshoot any issues that cause delays to the export of these highly perishable goods.”

The Scottish salmon sector, meanwhile, has called on UK Government to help resolve Brexit disruption.

Dozens of lorry loads of fish have failed to leave Scotland on-time since the full Brexit regulations came into force at the start of this year. Confusion over paperwork, the extra documentation needed, and IT problems have all contributed to delays and hold-ups.

The leaders of all of Scotland’s main food and drink bodies – including Scotland Food and Drink (SF&D), the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) and Seafood Scotland (SS) – wrote to the Prime Minister in November 2020 appealing for a gradual implementation period for the new rules, but without success.

They now believe the Brexit deal, which was agreed by the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve: just a week before the new regulations came into effect, gave businesses no time to prepare for the huge changes necessary to get produce to the continent.

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of the SSPO, said: “Had a deal been concluded even a couple of months ago, that would have given our producers and hauliers the time to test out the new systems, trial the paperwork and get everything in place.

“As it is, we have had lorry loads of salmon stuck in Scotland, waiting for the right paperwork, we have seen delays in France because of IT problems in bringing in whole new systems and confusion everywhere.

“Our members are resourceful and have been trying everything they can to get fish to customers in Europe, including new routes, but every delay forces the price of our product down and hands the initiative to our international competitors.”

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