The chief executive of Seafood Scotland, Donna Fordyce, has criticised disruption caused by the UK leaving the EU, warning of a ‘perfect storm’ for Scottish seafood exports.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Fordyce said that the problems were all Brexit-related. “Seafood is very complex, a company could be sending multiple species from multiple boats out to one customer,” she said. “The systems haven’t been tested enough. There are failures, the system has just ground to a halt.”
When asked whether she thought it would just take time for new processes to bed-in she replied, “it’s time that companies don’t have, we can’t wait the number of weeks it will take to get all of the teething issues sorted. That’s why we were asking for a grace period [of six months].”
In a separate statement, she expressed frustration at the current situation. “The last 48 hours has really delivered what was expected – new bureaucratic non-tariff barriers, and no one body with the tools to be able to fix the situation,” she said.
“It’s a perfect storm for Scottish seafood exporters. Weakened by Covid-19, and the closure of the French border before Christmas, the end of the Brexit transition period has unleashed layer upon layer of administrative problems, resulting in queues, border refusals and utter confusion,” she added.
Ms Fordyce also spoke of IT problems in both France and the UK and a lack of knowledge and understanding of the required paperwork meaning checks are taking far longer than they should.
“These businesses are not transporting toilet rolls or widgets,” she said. “They are exporting the highest quality, perishable seafood which has a finite window to get to markets in peak condition. If the window closes these consignments go to landfill.”
“The problem is no longer hypothetical. It is happening right now,” she concluded.