Scottish fishermen hit by Brexit delays, shortage of vets

Scottish fishermen have been told to catch less fish because of problems exporting their catch to the European Union (EU), due to long delays created by new Brexit red tape.

“We’re now advising the catching sector to ease up,” said Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, after reporting that trucks carrying fish were facing four-hour-long waits to be cleared for onward transport. “We can’t guarantee we’ll get it into the marketplace.”

The UK’s fishing sector — which has been identified by the government as a major beneficiary of Brexit — is one of the worst-hit by new bureaucracy, requiring forms such as catch certificates and health documents issued by a vet to be able to sell to the EU, its biggest export market. A shortage of vets to issue the forms is causing delays, Buchan said.

Buchan said Transports Mesguen, a French trucking company that moves fish, had intended to send four trucks for export Tuesday, but had only managed to send two due to the customs hold-ups.

“We’ve been ill-prepared,” Buchan said. “The government hasn’t listened to the warnings the industry has continually been giving.”

Britain’s free-trade deal with the EU saw it negotiate a 25% increase in the catch for UK’s boats in British waters over the next five years, followed by annual negotiations. However, being outside the EU’s single market and customs union, fishermen face poorer market access, and must follow rules such as sending their fish through designated border control posts.

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