It has been six months since Brexit, and the effects continue to impact the Scottish fishing industry.
From lorries full of scampi stuck in harbors before Christmas to Nicola Sturgeon accusing the UK government of ‘selling off’ the industry, the few months have been tough for Scottish fishing; and that’s not to mention the Covid pandemic.
Brexit may not have been good for the Scottish fishing industry, but why exactly is it and what are the long-term impacts?
Why has Scottish fisheries been negatively affected by Brexit?
Before Brexit went into effect, between 2016 and 2019, three-quarters of all Scotland’s seafood exports went to the EU, amassing up to £ 700million in sales.
However, since we officially left the EU, exporting seafood to the continent has become much more difficult.
The UK is no longer part of the EU customs union, which means more checks are carried out on trucks entering the EU, which can cause significant delays.
Documentation problems, which are complex and time-consuming to complete, add to the delays: a delivery can take up to 80 pages compared to the simple one-page delivery note and the invoice that accompanied shipments before Brexit .
Any delay is not good news for seafood, but especially shellfish like lobsters, shrimp and crabs which perish quickly; delays of up to 30 hours forced thousands of pounds of inventory to be thrown away, costing companies exorbitant amounts of money.
Ultimately, this means that shipping seafood to the EU is now much more expensive and for many companies both sales and profits are down.
Why is it so much more expensive to ship fish to the EU now?
Filling in the extra admin can take hours each morning and some companies have had to hire extra staff to do the job, which can cost £ 30,000 to £ 40,000 per year.
Some businesses are also required to hire a customs officer to handle import paperwork, which can cost up to £ 51,000 per year.
Delays mean products can perish, with a single truck costing companies thousands of pounds.
Before Christmas, when delays prevented shipments to France, UK fish prices plummeted as dealers desperately tried to move produce by cutting prices.
How are companies adapting to new circumstances?
Some Scottish companies are looking to Asia to sell their products, with shipping to places like Taiwan and Hong Kong often being a cheaper and faster option than the EU.