The Brexit deal with the EU will mean increased costs and potential disruption to transport for the UK’s number 1 export industry says the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO).
In a week of transport chaos with millions of pounds of losses caused by border disruption between the UK and continental Europe which continues, Tavish Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said: “We are pleased the negotiators have at last secured a deal. This will alleviate some of the serious problems that would come from a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
“But we still have concerns. The disruption at the Channel right now is hitting our members ability to export. Brexit means the Scottish salmon sector now face the reality of lots more red tape, bureaucracy and paperwork which are the reality of the extra trade barriers which come with Brexit.
“So until we see how this UK-EU agreement actually works in practice, it is impossible to make a clear judgement on how the new trading arrangement in 2021 will affect salmon farming.”
As seen in the last few days, transport disruption on either side of the Channel will result in salmon arriving late, or not at all, at the main market in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Commercially this will result in enforced discounts or lost sales to salmon farming companies.
The salmon sector is also concerned about the new Brexit requirement for tens of thousands of Export Health Certificates (EHCs) from 1st January. Salmon farmers have been assured there will be enough staff to process the extra paperwork. But there is still considerable uncertainty as to whether arrangements will work as planned. The cost of the extra EHCs is expected to be at least £1.3 million to the sector every year – a cost that did not exist prior to Brexit.
In 2019, over 53,000 tonnes of fresh whole Scottish salmon were exported to the European Union with an export valuation of over £320 million, helping make the fish the UK's number one food export.
Mr Scott said: "We need the new transport hub at Larkhall to process the majority of these export certificates swiftly and smoothly. Many organisations have put considerable efforts into ensuring this happens and we are very grateful for that.
“But salmon farming’s big worry remains the potential for disruption at the Channel. Salmon is a perishable product and any delay in getting the fish to our European markets will have serious consequences. If consignments end up being stuck in queues of traffic for hours, the knock-on effects on eventual market price can be severe. That is exactly what we have seen since Sunday. So the omens are not good.
“It is up to the UK Government to now deliver on their numerous promises that Brexit will help the economy. We are all watching.”
Mr Scott said that the SSPO would be maintaining daily engagement with the governments in both Edinburgh and London on the sector’s behalf.