Scotland rejoining fishing policy will be ‘difficult’ says expert
Scotland minister David Duguid will lead a new taskforce which will aim to “work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments”. The introduction of new checks and paperwork since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 has caused significant disruption to exports of fresh fish and seafood to the EU.
Organisations including the Scottish Seafood Association and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation have expressed frustration at the lack of Government action.
Seafood hauliers also protested against the Brexit fishing deal by stacking lorries in central London.
The new Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force will bring together representatives from the UK Government and the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors.
Mr Duguid has now written to the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to ask if he and his officials can take part in the first meeting this week.
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The Senior Scotland minister promised the new taskforce would be “action-oriented” as it worked to ensure that “medium and longer-term export issues are resolved”.
The UK Government had announced it was putting in place a £23 million compensation package for firms exporting fish and shellfish to the EU who can show they have suffered a genuine loss.
Another £7.75 million funding package from the Scottish Government was also revealed by Mr Ewing this week.
But fishing chiefs questioned how they would prove they had suffered a loss.
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Mr Duguid said: “We have had extensive consultations with the industry and have been working day and night to resolve issues around the new arrangements for getting our world-class seafood to customers in Europe.
“From this ongoing consultation with industry representatives, I believe that the gap they would like us to fill would comprise an action-oriented group.
“This will work collaboratively across UK and Scottish governments, increasing confidence in the seafood and aquaculture supply chain by ensuring that medium and longer-term export issues are resolved.”
He insisted: “I am clear about the need for action. I want the taskforce to track the export process to identify issues stopping or delaying export, and areas of complexity that are not yet well understood.
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“We want to seek a common understanding on the export process and address concerns by developing solutions to be taken forward by the UK Government, Scottish Government and EU.
“And we want to ensure there is effective communication with the industry to ensure traders are aware of issues and of solutions.”
The new panel will meet fortnightly, with the first talks coming after industry leaders accused the UK Government of being “in denial” about the scale of the problem fishermen face exporting their catch to the European Union.
Whitehall sources told The Sunday Express last night the move was the “next step” to prevent a “fishing export crisis”.
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