Fish­ing busi­nesses could

● No-deal could be dis­as­trous for in­dus­try, warn lead­ers

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY TOM PE­TERKIN PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

Fish­ing busi­nesses will “go to the wall” as a re­sult of Brexit red tape and dis­rup­tion at the English Chan­nel, in­dus­try lead­ers have warned MSPs. Alis­tair Sin­clair of the Scot­tish Creel Fish­er­men’s Fed­er­a­tion gave the warn­ing when he ap­peared be­fore Holy­rood’s ru­ral econ­omy and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee yes­ter­day.

Mr Sin­clair said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, ex­ports of seafood would be held up be­cause of a lack of en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cers and vets to pro­vide the pa­per­work re­quired.

He also claimed live shell­fish ex­ports to Europe could be dis­rupted by demon­stra­tions at the Chan­nel from French fish­er­men de­nied ac­cess to British waters post-EU with­drawal.

Con­cerns were also raised by Peter­head­based Jimmy Buchan, of the Scot­tish Seafood As­so­ci­a­tion, who said red tape pre­sented “huge” hur­dles and costs to busi­nesses.

Mr Buchan also said a no-deal Brexit would re­sult in a 20% tar­iff on mack­erel, which would leave Scot­tish fish­er­men un­able to com­pete with Scan­di­na­vian coun­ter­parts.

Other con­cerns raised by Mr Buchan in­cluded EU mi­grant work­ers “leav­ing daily” an in­dus­try that was de­pen­dent on for­eign work­ers.

Mr Buchan said each fish con­sign­ment would need five cer­tifi­cates, a re­quire­ment that would be dif­fi­cult for busi­ness to meet, adding firms were pack­ag­ing fish now at a time when they did not know of the la­belling re­quire­ments in a no-deal. Mr Sin­clair said he had been told by fish pro­ces­sors that the UK’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs (De­fra) did not know what was go­ing on and warned red tape could re­sult in a two­day de­lay for ex­ports. “Deal­ing in the live mar­ket, there’s many peo­ple who will go to the wall,” Mr Sin­clair said.

Smaller scale fish­ing op­er­a­tions could also be af­fected by demon­stra­tions from French com­peti­tors at the Chan­nel.

Mr Sin­clair said: “These guys are go­ing to be de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to fish in the south­ern North Sea.

“They have promised there are go­ing to be large demon­stra­tions – you can imag­ine how the farm­ers in France demon­strate.

“If we are look­ing at the same as that, the low-im­pact fish­er­men who sup­ply live shell­fish to the Euro­pean con­ti­nent could be out of busi­ness overnight.”

Mike Park of the Scot­tish White Fish Pro­duc­ers added: “I was part of the scal­lop war ne­go­ti­a­tions last year and it doesn’t take much to trig­ger an in­ci­dent. We are all aware of that.”

De­spite the con­cerns, El­speth Macdonald of the Scot­tish Fish­er­men’s Fed­er­a­tion said Brexit would cre­ate a num­ber of “op­por­tu­ni­ties” for the sec­tor in Scot­land as a re­sult of leav­ing the Com­mon Fish­eries Pol­icy (CFP).

She said: “There is the po­ten­tial to as much as dou­ble the raw ma­te­rial the in­dus­try is ready to catch and there­fore make avail­able to the pro­cess­ing sec­tor.

“We do, of course, fully recog­nise the chal­lenges that a no-deal exit would rep­re­sent for the pro­cess­ing sec­tor and we are work­ing hard with them to ad­dress these.”

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