Scottish seafood delegation in fact finding trip to Boulogne
AS Brexit continues to dominate the UK political agenda, but still with no clear outcome in sight, many businesses have sensibly continued planning ahead to make sure they are ready for any eventuality. Scottish salmon producers are most definitely in this camp. Within our sector, contingency plans are developing in anticipation of changes arising from Brexit, particularly a no deal scenario.
Moves are underway to consolidate Export Health Certificate (EHC) certifying activity at distribution hubs, alongside other initiatives to expedite the process.
The SSPO and our members also continue to work with hauliers and government officials to ensure the routes to market are as quick and free of burdens as possible amid ongoing worries of potential delays and tailbacks in the south east of England.
Hauliers have told us that they will likely wait around five hours at the Channel Tunnel before considering using ferry terminals as an alternative route to market.
It is very much a case of trying to ensure there is minimal disruption to the usual processes, while at the same time keeping options open to be able to adapt quickly in changed circumstances.
Against this uncertain backdrop, a delegation of Scottish seafood exporters, salmon producers included, embarked on a trip to France in late May to witness first-hand the preparations the French authorities have made for Brexit.
France is, at present, the biggest market for Scottish salmon, with UK whole fresh salmon sales of some £168 million in 2018.
As well as this, it is a natural first point of entry in to the EU ahead of dispatch to other countries.
While no one can say for certain what sort of disruption, if any, Brexit may cause to cross-border trade processes, authorities, businesses and other key stakeholders on both sides of the Channel are doing their best to ensure goods, such as highly prized fresh and smoked Scottish salmon, can continue to get to customers quickly as the UK exits the EU.
Our visit was punctuated by a very brief but enjoyable trip to the Luxembourg Palace in Paris with our French seafood counterparts to celebrate seafood in the heart of the French capital.
After this, we moved on to the main purpose of the trip: to visit Boulogne-sur-Mer, home of France’s most important fish market and fishing port, on a Brexit fact finding mission.
We began at 4.30am with a tour of several facilities in Boulogne. We
were guided around the distribution hubs of STEF and Delanchy – the main seafood hauliers on the French side – and the fish market itself, centred around the Halle Jean Voisin, catching a glimpse of both the refrigerated facilities for landing, allotting and forwarding fish, and the auction hall where it is bought and sold.