Highlands & Islands MSP Maree Todd (pictured) has spoken of the ‘devastating impact’ of Brexit on fish and seafood exporters across the region, which is leaving businesses on the ‘brink of collapse’.
After a last-minute deal was struck with the EU on Christmas Eve, businesses across the country were given a matter of days’ notice to prepare for the end of the transition period on the 31 December.
Fish and seafood exporters across the country are now reporting losses of more than £1 million in oversea sales a day due to delays caused by extensive paperwork, red tape and barriers to trade.
The Scottish Government is calling for urgent compensation to be provided to affected businesses, processes to be streamlined and for the UK government to formally seek a grace period with the EU.
Maree Todd MSP said:
“I have been inundated with emails from fish and seafood exporters across the Highlands who are now on the brink of collapse.
“Having grown up in Ullapool, I understand the devastating impact these delays will be having on businesses and livelihoods who depend on fisheries as a source of income.
“I have written to both the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove and George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK government to communicate the realities of their extreme Brexit deal on my constituents in the Highlands.
“Had the UK government agreed a six-month grace period with the EU like the Scottish Government pushed for, a smoother transition could have taken place and this situation could have been avoided.
“What we’re seeing now is a once thriving and lucrative industry literally being left out to rot.”
Calling on substantial financial support for the sector, Ms Todd adds:
“The UK government has announced that a mere £23 million in compensation for the whole of the UK is forthcoming.
“To put that in perspective, the Scottish Government delivered £23.5 million to the Scottish sector alone in response to COVID-19 last year.
“The Scottish Government was not consulted on this funding package and is yet to see its full details, but it appears that not all businesses will be covered, such as fishing vessels who land but don’t export directly.
“It is crucial that the Prime Minister steps up with a substantial compensation package which covers all businesses immediately – right now, we’re seeing no sense of urgency from the UK government in getting financial support into the hands of fish and seafood exporters.
“The Tories made this Brexit mess and they must fix it.”