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December 22nd 2020

Scottish salmon farmers say that lorries carrying fresh fish need to cross the Channel soon if they are to have any chance of getting their produce to customers after Christmas.

The fish farmers are increasingly frustrated and concerned that access to France is still blocked, despite calls for urgent action since Sunday. They are continuing to press UK and Scottish Government Ministers for swift action in the face of huge losses in the busiest week of the year.

But with little or no traffic expected to cross the Channel today there is almost no chance of the Scottish salmon consignments which are currently stuck in Kent reaching customers in Europe before Christmas.

But the post-Christmas market is very important too and Scotland's salmon farmers are continuing to push for an urgent re-opening of the Channel to freight traffic.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of SSPO, said:

"Since Sunday night there has been no movement of trucks, no announcement of protocols, no decision on driver testing. This slow pace is having serious consequences for salmon farmers trying to get their premium product to market.

"The situation has been extremely disruptive for Scottish salmon exports to Europe, particularly at such an important trading time of the year. We are hearing reports of trucks stuck in the queue at Kent and of trucks turning around and coming back to Scotland with their loads.

Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation CEO Tavish Scott

"As a result, companies are trying to find alternative routes to market, alternative buyers for the fish or even work with customers who might be able to find their own transport solutions. Time is precious when dealing with a high quality, fresh product.

"If negotiations can open the Channel for freight tonight then salmon may still reach markets on Boxing Day for distribution to customers, which would be helpful to meet pre-New Year demand.

"It is also imperative that Government plans to prioritise consignments of perishable seafood for cross-Channel transport are put into place as soon as possible. That could help to alleviate some of the disruption.

"The sector is looking for urgent reassurance of smooth transit to maintain a continuity of supply to valued customers in Europe."

Mr Scott also said: "Meanwhile, it is evident that UK Government must seek an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period. This is the only pragmatic step to take during this unprecedented turn of events with Covid-19."

Background Facts:

  • In December around 3,800 tonnes of whole, fresh/chilled salmon worth £28million is exported to the EU
  • Every day more than 152 tonnes of whole, fresh Scottish salmon are en route to the EU
  • Export valuation of over £1.1 million every day. Between now and Christmas that would be over £6.5 million worth of Salmon not reaching the market.
  • In addition, other salmon products like fillets, sides of salmon and smoked salmon account for £10 million of sales in December, approximately £400,000 per day of sales.

Did you know? Scottish salmon farmers aim to be world-leading in growing healthy, tasty food, produced in the most responsible and sustainable way.