Scottish salmon trade body slams post-Brexit red tape

Editorial Staff

Added paperwork has been estimated to cost Scottish salmon farming sector an additional £3 million per year since the UK’s formal exit from the EU on January 31, 2020.

Scotland’s salmon sector, the United Kingdom’s largest food export, has voiced frustration over persistent red tape issues that have cost the industry an estimated £12 million since Brexit, industry representatives said on Tuesday.

Salmon Scotland, the trade body representing a sector worth £766 million annually to the UK economy, has highlighted the challenges faced due to bureaucratic hurdles in exporting their product, particularly to the European Union. The sector’s concerns are intensifying as the fourth anniversary of the UK’s departure from the EU approaches next week.

Despite strong international demand for Scottish salmon, primarily cultivated off Scotland’s west coast and islands, efforts to streamline trade flows and penetrate new markets have been “painfully slow,” Salmon Scotland officials said. The trade body has been collaborating with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to enhance market access and simplify export procedures.

Salmon Scotland Chief Executive Tavish Scott. Photo: Salmon Scotland

Tavish Scott, Chief Executive of Salmon Scotland, is scheduled to discuss the need for more decisive action across the government with the Scotland Office.

“Four years post-Brexit, our farmers continue to grapple with excessive red tape, while progress in streamlining trade and opening new markets is frustratingly slow,” said Scott.

“Defra ministers need to urgently prioritize the UK’s largest food export. International demand for Scottish salmon, widely considered the best in the world, is extremely high. With reduced bureaucracy, we could further expand our exports, generating millions for the Scottish and UK economies.”

Electronic certification

A significant source of frustration has been the absence of an updated eCertification system for export health certificates (EHCs), along with issues surrounding the current outdated framework. Scottish salmon producers have expressed willingness to cooperate with the UK Government in implementing any facilitative measures, and have already trialed a successful electronic EHC system, showcasing potential improvements.

Since the UK’s formal exit from the EU on January 31, 2020, post-Brexit paperwork has been estimated to cost Scottish salmon farming companies an additional £3 million per year.

The potential for smoother trade flows and access to new markets, particularly in rapidly growing areas like the Netherlands, Spain, and Asia, could significantly boost investment in the Scottish economy and create more high-skilled jobs, according to the trade body.

The export market for salmon alone accounts for annual sales of approximately £600 million, while salmon farming in Scotland directly employs around 2,500 people, with an additional 10,000 jobs depending on the sector.


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