Many Scottish fishermen have halted exports to European Union markets after post-Brexit bureaucracy added days to their delivery times and hundreds of pounds to the costs of each load.
Fishing exporters have told Reuters their businesses could become unviable after the introduction of health certificates, customs declarations and other paperwork.
Business owners said they had tried to send small deliveries to France and Spain to test the new systems this week but it was taking 5 hours to secure a health certificate in Scotland, a document which is required to apply for other customs paperwork.
In the first working week after Brexit, one-day deliveries were taking three or more days – if they got through at all.
Several owners could not say for sure where their valuable cargo was. A trade group told fishermen to stop fishing exported stocks.
“Our customers are pulling out,” Santiago Buesa of SB Fish told Reuters. “We are fresh product and the customers expect to have it fresh, so they’re not buying. It’s a catastrophe.”
Britain’s departure from the EU’s orbit is the biggest change to its trade since the launch of the Single Market in 1993, introducing reams of paperwork and costs that must be completed to move goods across the new customs border.
Those trading in food and livestock face the toughest requirements, hitting the express delivery of freshly caught fish that used to move overnight from Scotland, via England, into France, before going on to other European markets in days.
David Noble, whose Aegirfish buys from Scottish fleets to export to Europe, said he would have to pay between 500 to 600 pounds ($815) per day for paperwork, wiping out most profit.
His concern is that this marks more than just teething problems, and says he cannot pass on the higher costs of doing business. “I’m questioning whether to carry on,” he said.
“If our fish is too expensive our customers will buy elsewhere.”
Main Photo: Staff carries a bag at the Glasgow Fish Market at Blochairn, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain. EPA-EFE/Robert Perry