MP Lamont asks Government to help fishermen as red tape halts exports to EU

Borders MP John Lamont, who faced criticism for voting for the UK-EU trade deal in December, has now told the government that it now needs to act fast to help fishermen.

By Kevin Janiak
Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:44 pm
MP John Lamont at Westminster.
MP John Lamont at Westminster.

Concerns expressed then that the red tape around exporting fish to the EU post-Brexit would create a big problem for our region’s fishermen have been proven to be accurate.

Many species of Scottish seafood have experienced a price drop of around 40-50% at market due to processors and intermediaries not buying, as they are not guaranteed to be able to sell seafood on to EU customers.

The Scottish Seafood Association says red tape is stopping the produce from getting to market on time.

Mr Lamont says he has been in contact with representatives of the industry in the Borders and heard the issues they are facing, and that he has been discussing the issues with DEFRA and Scotland Office ministers since the beginning of January.

In the House of Commons today, Mr Lamont asked the environment secretary George Eustace to urgently find a solution for the industry, as well as backing calls for the UK Government to deliver compensation for loss of exports.

The minister said: “I will be talking to DFDS [industry logistics provider] later today ... the plan they have for a consolidation hub at Larkhall is a good one and when we iron out these problems it will work”.

Mr Lamont said this afternoon: “The problems affecting the fishing industry need to be fixed immediately.

“These are very complex problems and the UK government needs to produce a solution. Scottish seafood needs to be reaching the EU market.

“The Scottish Government also needs to give their support by ensuring there are enough inspectors to certify the seafood for export.

“The UK Government has offered to send additional support to Food Standards Scotland, and I hope this is accepted.

“These hold ups have been unavoidable for export companies and it is important they are compensated accordingly.”

SNP MSP Christine Grahame gave her backing to calls for the UK Government to provide compensation to Scotland’s food and drink sector

She said: “Despite Tory promises of seamless trade with Europe after Brexit, Scotland’s food and drink sector has been hit hard by crippling increases in red tape causing gridlock at ports.

“The incompetence of the UK government is clear for all to see.

“Local export firms were already struggling to get by in the middle of a pandemic, but the double blow of this Tory Brexit threatens to put many companies out of business for good.

“These issues sit squarely at the door of Boris Johnson and his Scottish Tory enablers. They must now compensate local businesses for the financial disaster they have caused.

“These jobs and livelihoods might not matter to the Tories – but they matter to Scotland and the SNP.”