Brexit delays hit Scottish salmon exports

Dover, UK: Delays of up to 48 hours for freight at Dover due to Brexit are threatening the Scottish salmon industry.

Tavish Scott, chief executive, Scottish Salmon, a trade body for the industry, held a meeting with the fisheries minister Victoria Prentis on Tuesday.

“Fresh salmon from Scotland will normally arrive in France the following morning, but in recent weeks there have been delays of up to 48 hours due to queues on the UK side of the Channel – and there are concerns of repeat problems,” Scottish Salmon said in a statement.

France is the biggest market for the Sottish salmon industry. Brexit means food has to be accompanied by customs and health and safety documents, with fish directed to Boulogne-sur-Mer, near Calais, where mandatory controls, including checking veterinary certificates, are conducted.

A spokesman for Scottish Salmon said the fishing industry model was selling fresh fish on “day one for consumption on day three”. But the delays on the Kent roads have meant delays of up to four days – and sometimes the loss of entire sales. “We had one day where we could not get any fresh into France at all,” the spokesman said.

“The impacts of the border controls were identified, mitigation measures were identified but for some reason the government has decided not to implement them.”

The industry is calling on the government to put short-term measures in place to triage haulage, enabling refrigerated trucks with perishable goods to be prioritised in the event of future gridlock on the Kent roads.

But it also wants a longer-term solution put in place. “Fresh Scottish salmon is perishable and needs to arrive with customers as quickly as possible,” Scott said.

France is the UK’s largest market for Scottish salmon which is the UK’s single biggest food export with more than £600m in sales. “The concern is that if the government does not do something about this, our customers will just go to Norway, where they can guarantee the supply chain,” said the spokesman.

Norway is the next big exporter to France but it has access to the single market as a member of the European Economic Area, an option rejected by the British government.

The industry is also facing the threat of a trade war with speculation the EU will target exports such as salmon if the UK government acts on the threat to tear up the Northern Ireland Brexit arrangements.

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