Bureaucracy, paperwork, delays and confusion arising from the post-Brexit trade arrangements with the EU have left Scottish salmon producers counting the cost.
According to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), the trade body for the sector, Scotland’s salmon farmers have incurred losses of at least £11 million as a direct result of the changes brought about by Brexit.
The SSPO figures show the losses are a result of the extra paperwork, the new layers of bureaucracy, the delays and the confusion caused by the end of the Brexit transition phase.
Since January 1 2021, when the UK left the Brexit transition phase and exporters had to deal with the full effects of not being in the European single market, salmon farmers have experienced considerable delays, some of which have resulted in lost orders, failed deliveries, unharvested fish and heavily discounted products at market.
The sector has experienced an immediate loss of sales to the tune of 1,500 tonnes of product.
Scotland’s salmon farmers prepared extensively for the changes and allocated additional resources to maintain the smooth and efficient supply process it previously enjoyed.
Scottish salmon farmers have also had no choice but to delay harvesting 700 tonnes of fish in order to minimise any of their high-quality product becoming spoiled or destroyed.
The sector has experienced various increasing costs which are unrelated to production, amounting to £200,000 in January alone. Such overheads are the cumulative result of additional export documents and resources, logistics costs, administrative and veterinary costs, and through lost custom as a result of reduce confidence in the supply timeline.
Mr Scott said: “This cannot be the ‘new normal’. Our members cannot guarantee reliable delivery times to the European Union, which is our biggest overseas market. The systems need to be streamlined and a lighter touch adopted on all sides to make sure we can continue to serve our European customers as we have in the past. If not, they will go elsewhere and we will lose both trade and customers.
“We are calling on both the UK and Scottish governments to work together with us and with the supply chain to make sure there are no more blockages in the system which prevent our members from getting their fish to market on time.”
The Scottish salmon farming sector provides direct employment for more than 2,500 people and supports at least 10,000 jobs in processing and the supply chain. In Scotland alone 3,600 companies work with the sector - which produces the UK's biggest food export.
The post-Brexit losses follow a tough year for Scotland's salmon farmers after the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic saw export sales fall by £168 million.
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