Action call over export delays
Fisheries Secretary asks UK Government for action after export damage and delays.
The Scottish Government has raised concerns over the impact that delays and potential delays at the channel tunnel are having on Scottish seafood production and export businesses. The intervention comes as some vehicles carrying fish from the Highlands to the continent were damaged by protesters in France.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said businesses had seen continental supermarkets and wholesalers cancelling orders and fish being rejected due to deterioration – both a results of delays caused by the channel tunnel being closed as a result of both migrant incursion and industrial action in France. Scottish fish processors have been further affected when a number of vehicles were damaged during a separate blockade.
While recognising these issue are primarily for France, Mr Lochhead has asked the UK Government to press for prioritisation of UK products with a short shelf life and to update the Scottish Government on action to help businesses deal with the current issues. The First Minister has also raised concerns with the Prime Minister.
Mr Lochhead said:
“The disruption and damage to Scottish exports is serious and unacceptable. Delays are bad enough but destruction of the valuable cargoes cannot continue.
“Scottish seafood is a premium product that is loved in many countries across the world. Many products are exported to the continent with the export market a significant part of many businesses and clearly, with perishable products like seafood, time is critical.
“The Scottish Government has already raised concerns on both of these separate issues with the UK Government and will continue to press for action to resolve this situation and seek assurances over the safe transit of Scottish trucks through port facilities as a matter of urgency.
“It is extremely troubling to hear from a number of fish processors who are worried about the impact the intermittent closure of the channel tunnel is having on their businesses. With orders being cancelled and products being rejected as delays affect the quality, Scottish businesses are losing significant sums of money.
“While these matters are, of course, predominantly for the French Authorities, we also need the UK Government to do what it can to help. Following on from my previous letter, the First Minister has also raised this situation with the Prime Minister urging him to ensure fresh products from the UK are prioritised and asking for an update on the help the UK Government can give businesses.
“I will continue to press the concerns of the Scottish fish processing sector to help ensure they get the support they need to protect the important contribution they make to the Scottish economy.”
Notes To Editors
Mr Lochhead wrote to Patrick McLoughlan, Secretary of State for Transport on 2 July. The First Minister has also raised the issue with the Prime Minister in a letter on July 22, 2015.
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