Rural Economy Secretary urges UK Government to act quickly.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has called on the UK Government to bolster support for Scotland’s struggling seafood sector.
Following a series of meetings with seafood businesses and organisations this week, the Cabinet Secretary has asked for:
- urgent compensation to be provided to affected businesses in coastal communities and across Scotland
- a formal request to be made to the EU for a grace period to sort out and simplify the bureaucracy
- streamlining of the bureaucracy that the UK Government has put in place as a result of the deal, with paperwork and IT systems to be urgently looked at
The sector is currently facing a series of challenging impacts due to the establishment of new non-tariff barriers in the Brexit deal. This is compounded by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affecting both national and international trade, with hospitality supplies significantly curtailed at home and abroad.
The seafood sector has been particularly hard hit with companies having little time to put in place new business practices to export to the EU and Northern Ireland and difficulties understanding new customs and export certification processes.
Mr Ewing said:
“It is scandalous how Scotland’s seafood sector has been treated since the end of the EU Exit Transition Period. Previously booming businesses have been left to rot as a result of extensive bureaucracy forced on them by a poor Brexit deal. Relationships and contracts that have been in place for decades are ending. World class food is being unnecessarily wasted. Family businesses are failing. It is imperative that the UK Government acts, and acts now, to provide adequate support to these businesses.
“I’ve met with the sector multiple times this week to hear their concerns and work out what we can do to alleviate these issues. Following on from our most recent meeting I urge the UK Government to take action and compensate businesses, streamline processes and seek a grace period with the EU.
“Scotland’s food and drink industry is revered globally. We cannot let it suffer any longer. The Scottish Government will work constructively with relevant partners to do all we can to support.”