Progress being made to help North-east’s seafood sector, says local MP

Export delays and red tape issues caused by Brexit – which have caused huge damage to the north-east’s seafood sector – are beginning to ease, claims the area’s MP.

By Kevin McRoberts
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 7:15 am
David Duguid MP says there has been steady improvements in the seafood supply chain.
David Duguid MP says there has been steady improvements in the seafood supply chain.

UK Government Minister for Scotland – and Banff and Buchan MP – David Duguid said temporary issues felt in the seafood supply chain are steadily improving.

After the latest meeting of the Scottish Seafood Export Working Group, attended online by the Scottish Seafood Association and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, he was “encouraged that solutions now in place are beginning to bear fruit”.

The Minister also spoke with DFDS, the logistics experts who operate the Larkhall hub, through which much of Scotland’s seafood exports pass.

He said: “It is essential that we know precisely what difficulties are arising so we can tailor solutions.

“The excellent feedback from DFDS is massively helpful. We are working to streamline systems, while supporting exporters and partners such as DFDS, and the commitment to making the system work is clear across the board.

“The UK Government has acknowledged there have been difficulties and we want to work together to provide solutions and restore confidence within this crucial sector.”

He added: “A £23m additional support scheme for the seafood sector has been announced and the UK Government knows the urgency of rapid delivery.

“Meetings such as today’s allow us to take on board the industry’s concerns about the eligibility for that support fund, about making it swift and readily accessible.

“There are still issues with the supply chain and we are doing all we can to ease them.”

The £23m fund will be targeted at fishing export businesses who can evidence a genuine loss in exporting fish and shellfish to the EU.

The UK Government said that support was available immediately and would be paid retrospectively to cover losses incurred since January 1.

The scheme will be targeted at small and medium enterprises and the maximum claim available to individual operators will be £100,000.

The Marine Management Organisation will administer the scheme on behalf of exporters across the UK.

Mr Duguid said other support provided to the industry included:

• Constructive dialogue between UK Government and industry to resolve a number of initial problems that caused difficulties for the industry, including – but not limited to – computer system glitches.

• Issuing clear guidance on the required IT forms and paperwork to stakeholder representative groups, hauliers and businesses.

• Frequent meetings with businesses to understand and address issues as they arise.

• Working closely with individual businesses to help them get used to the new procedures.

• Providing extra physical resources to support certification in Scottish Hubs.

• Working with French authorities to ensure that minor administrative issues do not prevent goods from entering the market.