Seafood Industry cannot take another blow

Last night’s French border blockade could not have come at a worse time for the Scottish seafood industry.  On the back of 2020, and as Brexit uncertainty approaches, this week was to have been the period many companies were depending on to replenish financial reserves before the oncoming months of Brexit disruption.  Businesses and livelihoods are at immediate risk. 

Donna Fordyce, Chief Executive of Seafood Scotland said: “The seafood sector is hanging by a thread, and this latest blow is beyond devastating.  21 and 22 December are the busiest days of every year, as Europe traditionally enjoys premium seafood as part of their Christmas Eve celebrations – this week was to be the shining light between an horrendous 2020 and a looming Brexit transition.  Many companies have been working flat out for a week to fulfil massive orders from Europe.

“Much of the seafood to fulfil these huge orders has been caught or landed and is either on the road or was about to be.  Seafood companies and processors have purchased millions of pounds worth of catch for orders that won’t now see the market and being highly perishable, it can’t be shelved, or stockpiled.  The companies will take the hit of the spoiled goods, and some may not survive long enough to see whether insurance pays out.  

“The sector needs urgent help.  Firstly, they need the Border open safely, and high-value perishables prioritised so they can hit the last markets of the year.  Companies need clarity from the insurance sector as to whether losses already sustained will be covered, and they will need help from Government in the short term.  And finally, the last 24 hours have really brought home the urgent need for more time to prepare for Brexit.  A grace period for checks and new paperwork would be enormously welcomed.  In 24 hours, everything has changed and if the industry doesn’t get help now, the wider consequences could be dire.”