World Scottish seafood sector warns Brexit risking its future
Covid-19. Scottish MP travels positive, faces prosecution
© Creative Commons Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Margaret Ferrier was arrested by Scottish police and charged on Monday January 4th for failing to respect health rules in force. Margaret Ferrier, a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was arrested by Scottish police and charged on Monday January 4th for failing to comply with current health rules.
New post-Brexit rules could sink Scotland's fishing industry, fishermen and seafood exporters have warned, after chronic delays hit shipments in a sector that relies on rapid delivery of fresh produce.
"If we can't get it sorted and we cannot get it repaired then the shellfish industry in this country will be finished," fisherman Bob Teviotdale told AFP this week from Arbroath harbour on Scotland's North Sea coast.
Ireland seeks post-Brexit plain sailing with direct shipping to EU
Ireland has ramped up direct shipping routes to mainland Europe since the end of the Brexit transition period, seeking new passages to the EU bypassing freight jams feared at UK borders. Every year 150,000 trucks use the "UK landbridge" to transport three million tonnes of freight between the Republic and the European mainland. Trucks sail by roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ferries from Irish ports and mainland Britain, driving onwards to shipping hubs in southeast England, then on to continental Europe.
Standing aboard his trawler next to lobster creels and buckets filled with crabs, he detailed the logistical tightrope now being stretched by post-Brexit bureaucracy.
"We usually get our stuff picked up in the afternoon and from then on it starts a journey through the country to the borders, onto the ferries, then shipped to France," Teviotdale explained.
"Obviously with the Brexit and the different rules and regulations the guys are starting to struggle. The people who we sell to, our merchants, it's become unviable because they get too much loss."
Britain formally left the European Union last January but remained within its regulatory orbit until the end of the year under the terms of its divorce.
Meat factories warn covid absences may hit supply
Industry body calls for the early vaccination of workers to keep supply chains running smoothly.It warned that absences during the pandemic, coupled with disruption at ports, could hit food supply chains.
Although the two sides struck a free-trade deal last month, avoiding trade tariffs and quotas, the UK's departure from the EU single market and customs union has resulted in reams of red tape.
Some Scottish fishermen are reportedly choosing to keep their boats in port rather than risk their catch being caught up in the delays.
Instead of being shipped straight to market in northern France, and then to tables across Europe, highly-sought seafood shipments face going straight into landfills.
Some others sail an additional 48 hours to offload their catch in Denmark, according to Bloomberg News.
- 'Hit quickly' -
Seafood Scotland chief executive Donna Fordyce said the country has been impacted most by the new regulatory regime because it exports such large volumes of the fresh produce into Europe.
Unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland, which is home to 5.5 million people, voted by a majority to remain in the EU.
Brexit: British companies relieved but on their guard
© Chloé Goudenhooft, Ouest France Maxence Masurier, who runs two French wine shops in London, took precautions before December 31 so as not to risk a shortage with the arrival new administrative formalities. Stocks carried out before the end of the transition period should help UK businesses cope with the changes brought about by the end of the Brexit transition period. But even if the trade deal reached on Christmas Eve avert the worst, concerns remain about adapting to the new rules.
Opposition to Brexit has fuelled support for a fresh vote on independence, despite Scots rejecting going it alone in 2014.
"We rely on the European market," said Fordyce.
"So we've been hit quickly, the fastest, and now the other English companies are now starting to feel that effect as well.
"They're all starting to experience the same," Fordyce added, noting the industry's concerns were shared in an internal conference call this week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a prominent Brexiteer in the 2016 referendum on EU membership who displaced ex-premier Theresa May in Downing Street in 2019 over her desire to remain more closely aligned with the bloc, has labelled the problems "temporary administrative issues".
His government is vowing to compensate those negatively impacted by the changes, but precise details on the level of financial aid are yet to be provided.
"We are looking to compensate the fishing industry given they face temporary issues, and we accept that this may have been through no fault of their own," Johnson's spokesman told reporters Thursday.
But Allan Miller, chief executive of export company AM Shellfish, said the costs now involved in shipping seafood to Europe were "astronomical" and that the long-term numbers might not add up.
"This is all going to impact back on the fisherman," he warned.
"Put the prices too low to the fishermen, they can't go out and fish because it's physically not possible to work for the prices we are quoting.
"So we need things to streamline, (be) cost-effective, work properly so everything is in place for us to do our job."
Scottish leader promises to hold ‘legal’ independence vote .
First Minister Sturgeon accuses British Prime Minister Johnson, who opposes a new referendum, of fearing democracy.Scotland voted against independence by 55 percent to 45 percent in a 2014 referendum. But a majority of Scots also backed staying in the European Union in the subsequent 2016 Brexit vote, stoking demands by Scottish nationalists for a new independence vote after the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave the bloc.