Thursday 4 February 2021 6:07 pm

Government 'in denial' about post-Brexit fishing problems, say industry leaders

The government is “in denial” about the size of disruption to the UK’s fishing industry post-Brexit, according to Scottish industry leaders.

Scottish Seafood Association chief Jimmy Buchan told MPs today that disruption to fish exports were not just “teething problems” as said by Boris Johnson and that companies were losing an estimated £1m a day.

However, Buchan did say the situation had improved since 1 January when the Brexit transition period ended.

Fish exporters have been beset by issues at the border, with tonnes of product confiscated by EU authorities due to missing paperwork.

Exporters now have to fill in a series of customs declaration forms and navigate new IT systems when selling to the EU now.

Companies have also been hit by a recent confirmation that Brussels will permanently ban the UK from exporting shellfish like oysters, mussels, scallops, cockles and clams to the EU.

Scotland Food and Drink chief executive James Withers told Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee today that all these issues were not even the biggest challenge the fishing industry faces.

“I think the biggest single challenge we have just now is denial,” he said.

“I think it is denial, from the UK government in particular, of the scale of the problem.”

Johnson last month announced fishermen would be able to apply for a grant to be compensated for Brexit disruption.

Fish and seafood exporters who have faced post-Brexit disruption at the border are be able to claim a maximum of £100,000 per business as a part of a new £23m fund.

The fund was created after dozens of seafood lorry drivers protested out the front of Number 10.