British seafood exporters protest ‘unworkable’ Brexit deal

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London, Jan. 18, 2021 Dozens of trucks from British seafood companies staged a protest in London on Monday against the piles of paperwork they now have to fill out post-Brexit if they want to export their wares.

Companies from all over Britain drove trucks to Westminster and parked near Parliament for several hours to protest against the new difficulties of exporting seafood to the European Union.

Red tape has made exporting “unworkable,” Gary Hodgson, a director at Venture Seafood based in the north-eastern English region of East Yorkshire, told dpa.

“The people suffering the most are the live shellfish transporters,” he said, adding: “Then it’s cooked and chilled products and also the white fish industry. The delays are just unworkable.”

Hodgson said he had heard of one company being delayed 30 hours clearing customs in France, having had to fill out 400 forms for one load of live mixed shellfish for 10 customers in Spain.

He added that prior to Brexit, most deliveries required only a delivery notice, but now require an export health certificate, a catch certificate, a customs clearance form, and security documents.

A spokesperson from Scottish firm DR Collin & Son, who were taking part in the protest, said in a statement: “The industry is being tied in knots with paperwork requirements which would be easy enough to navigate, given that companies have put in the time and training in order.

“However, all the training is going to waste as the technology is outdated and cannot cope with the demands being placed on it.”

He also referred to a comment last week made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who described the similar issues in Northern Ireland as “teething problems.”

“These are not ‘teething issues’ as reported by the government.

“The consequences of these problems will be catastrophic on the lives of fishermen, fishing towns, and the shellfish industry as a whole.”

During a visit to a laboratory, Johnson told reporters he “sympathised” with the fishery businesses and announced a new fund to help them.

“What we’re going to do is give people a helping hand and that’s why we’ve set up the 100-million-pound (135.8-million-dollar) fund to help people with boats, to help with the fish-processing industry.

“The opportunity is massive,” he said, according to PA news agency.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said work was ongoing to resolve any issues.

She said: “We recognise that the fishing industry is facing some temporary issues following the end of the transition period, some of which are the responsibility of devolved administrations and some the responsibility of UK government, and we are looking at what additional financial support we can provide to those businesses affected.”

The British public narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum.

The nation left the bloc on Jan. 31, 2020 and entered a transition period, which ended on Dec. 31, which gave way to a new trade deal that was only agreed to on Dec. 24.

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