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Ross-based MSP Maree Todd warns Brexit bureaucracy already hitting fish and seafood exporters and demands action from UK government

By Hector MacKenzie

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Maree Todd MSP.
Maree Todd MSP.

Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd has called for the UK government to take immediate action to rectify the situation at UK ports following reports that fish and seafood exporters are experiencing extensive delays due to post-Brexit bureaucracy.

Some of the issues exporters are facing at various borders include "excessive sampling" for export health certificates, a lack of environmental health officers (EHO) present at the border and EHO’s inappropriate working hours. This red tape is leading to overnight delays, causing tonnes of perishable goods wasted and, says the Ross-based MSP, millions of pounds lost as a result.

She said: “Many livelihoods in coastal communities across the Highlands are reliant on fisheries, which is why I am so deeply concerned to hear of the backlogs and delays currently being experienced at various borders.

“We were promised ‘frictionless trade’ by the UK government, yet here we are, two weeks after Brexit, and one of our most valuable food exports are under threat.”

In 2018, it was estimated that fish and seafood exports were worth around £944 million to Scotland’s economy.

Industry experts such as the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance have described the current situation as "unacceptable" and a threat to the livelihoods of those working in the fishing industry and its supply chains. Seafood Scotland have also warned that “in a very short time, we could see the destruction of centuries old market which contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.”

Ms Todd added:“Unfortunately, this debacle confirms what we already knew, Brexit will and is causing serious and lasting damage to jobs and businesses in the Highlands, at a time where unemployment is already soaring.

“The UK government must act immediately to rectify the issues at the border and ensure seamless trade for exporters.”

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