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Scotland’s salmon sector – the UK’s biggest food export – has expressed frustration over ongoing red tape which has now cost an estimated £12 million extra since Brexit.
While international demand remains incredibly high for the premium fish grown off Scotland’s west coast and islands, measures to smooth trade flow and open new markets remain “painfully slow” ahead of next week’s fourth anniversary of leaving the EU.
Salmon Scotland, the trade body which represents the sector worth £766 million-a-year to the UK economy, has been working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to get more traction on market access and procedures.
But chief executive Tavish Scott will today raise the need for swifter government-wide action with the Scotland Office, where ministers have actively and enthusiastically supported the sector’s sustainable growth.
One of the measures causing red tape for salmon farming companies is the lack of new eCertification for export health certificates (EHCs), and issues with the current outdated system.
Salmon producers are willing to work with the UK Government to put in place any measures that make it easier to export their product to Europe, and have already piloted a successful electronic EHC system which shows what can be achieved.
Salmon Scotland has previously estimated that post-Brexit paperwork costs salmon farming companies in Scotland an extra £3 million a year since the UK formally left the EU on January 31, 2020.
With salmon increasingly popular in traditionally smaller European markets such as the Netherlands and Spain, and soaring in demand in Asia, smoother trade flow and new markets would open up the possibility of more investment in the Scottish economy and more high-skilled Scottish jobs.
The export market alone involves annual salmon sales of around £600 million-a-year.
Farm-raised salmon directly employs 2,500 people in Scotland and a further 10,000 jobs are dependent on the sector.
Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Four years on since Brexit, our farmers continue to face excessive red tape, while progress at smoothing trade flow and opening new markets remains painfully slow.
“Defra ministers need to urgently prioritise the UK’s largest food export, and I will be enlisting further support from other parts of government.
“International demand for Scottish salmon, rightly considered the best in the world, is incredibly high – and with less bureaucracy we could further grow exports.“This in turn would generate millions of pounds for the Scottish and UK economies.”