Salmon - a key Scottish export to the EU

Salmon - a key Scottish export to the EU

A body representing Scottish salmon producers has warned the UK government the Brexit deal it is pursuing is likely to place "huge unnecessary burdens" on the industry.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SPPO) said it could cost the industry up to GBR8.7m (US$11.2m) a year.

The trade body for the Scottish farmed salmon sector is concerned salmon exports to the European Union are likely to need exports health certificates (EHCs) when the post-Brexit transition phase is over at the end of this year unless the UK agrees to align with EU regulations.

They currently don't need EHCs because of free movement of goods within the bloc.

The SPPO suggested such a scenario would cost the Scottish farmed salmon sector between GBR1.3m and GBR8.7m a year, depending on the amount charged for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per lorry load.

"In bureaucratic terms, it could mean the processing and signing of an extra 50,000 to 100,000 EHCs every year, each one of which has to be signed by either an environmental health officer or a vet," it said.

"This will need extra staff at the main haulage distribution hub [in Scotland], the DFDS base at Larkhall in South Lanarkshire, and delays and hold ups in the dispatch of salmon to the Continent."

Julie Hesketh-Laird, chief executive of the SSPO said: "Scottish farmed salmon is the UK's biggest food export.

"We now send more than GBP190m worth of salmon to France, a third of our total exports. Once in the main French markets, the salmon can then be dispatched to almost anywhere in the EU.

"We deal in a perishable product so it is crucial for the thousands of loyal customers we have in the EU that we get our fresh fish to key markets as quickly and smoothly as possible."

"The addition of an Export Health Certificate for every order of salmon to the EU would place huge unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burdens on our sector - potentially undermining one of the UK's biggest modern export success stories."

The SPPO is asking the UK government to make this issue a priority in negotiations with the EU.

"We want both sides to commit to allow seafood trade to the EU to continue as it now, without the imposition of any new tariff or non-tariff barriers and we want UK ministers to call for this in negotiations," Hesketh-Laird said.

A spokesman for the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told news agency Reuters: "During the transition period businesses will be able to trade on the same terms as they do now until the end of 2020.

"We will inform industry later this year about actions they need to take to ensure they can continue trading after the transition period has ended."

About 300 salmon orders are dispatched to the EU every day by road and through the Channel Tunnel.