Scotland’s salmon farmers exported a record amount of fresh fish to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021, despite costly post-Brexit disruptions to supply.
A total of 19,410 tonnes of Scottish salmon, worth more than £100 million, made its way across the Channel to key markets on the continent.
The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said this equated to a 74% year-on-year increase but cautioned that “intense competition” meant the value did not increase at the same rate.
SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott said additional bureaucracy, paperwork, delays and confusion arising from Brexit had left salmon farmers incurring costs of at least £11m. However, he still expects 2021 will turn out to be a strong year. “This is a great result for the Scottish salmon farmers and the Scottish economy,” he said.
He added, however, that salmon farmers remained vulnerable to the problems caused by Brexit. “Export volumes to the EU may well be up for the first quarter but increased delays in getting products to our EU markets have kept values low,” he said.
The Sunday Post revealed in January how continental buyers were stopping buying Scots fish and seafood as post-Brexit red tape held up deliveries. Increased customs bureaucracy caused lengthy bottlenecks, leaving fish rotting in lorries at the border. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of orders were cancelled, pushing some Scots businesses close to the brink.
Firms said recurring lockdowns and delays to Covid jab programmes in Europe had added to the chaos.
However, despite ongoing delays a government industry taskforce set up to help Scottish seafood firms struggling to get their produce to the EU after Brexit is now being disbanded.
The Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce met for the penultimate time last week. Chairing the meeting, Scotland Office Minister David Duguid said the group had tackled problems affecting the seafood sector since Brexit, adding: “Although the taskforce has a fixed lifespan, we are looking at how we can continue this important dialogue.”
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