EU imports of seafood from smaller Scottish companies have been temporarily suspended after they were impacted by post-Brexit delays.
Deliveries have been halted by the industry’s biggest logistics provider, Denmark’s DFDS, until Monday (18 January) so a backlog caused by additional bureaucracy at border points can be sorted out.
The UK government has said it will compensate firms affected by the suspension, which is a result of confusion surrounding the introduction of additional health certificates and customs papers and issues relating to IT systems following the UK’s departure form the EU on 1 January.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that lorry-loads of live seafood and some fish destined for shops and restaurants in France, Spain and other countries have been rejected because they are taking too long to arrive.
The article added that new Brexit rules require every box of seafood and fish to be offloaded from lorries and inspected by vets before it leaves Scotland and said it has taken business owners five hours per lorry to obtain a health certificate, which is required to apply for other customs paperwork.
Quizzed about the situation, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I understand very much the frustrations of people who are fishing community and Scottish fishermen and women who are facing what I believe are temporary frustrations, and in so far as there are delays caused by a variety of problems we will compensate those fishing businesses.”
In response, the Scottish Seafood Association’s chief executive Jimmy Buchan tweeted that the organisation welcomed the pledge of compensation for the “nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles that have been erected since 1st January”.
He added: “This is just what we have been calling for in numerous meetings with government officials over the past few days. We now look forward to engaging with the government on the detail of the package on offer and working with both the UK and Scottish governments to clear the path for exports to resume as normal.”
UK Environment Minister George Eustice described the issues as “teething problems” adding “when people get used to using the paperwork goods will flow”.