Skip to main content

Experts hired to cut through seafood export red tape

Lorries at Customs in Dover. Complex new regulations and untested procedures have caused problems at distribution hubs in Scotland and at Customs on both sides of the Channel. File photo: BBC.
Lorries at Customs in Dover. Complex new regulations and untested procedures have caused problems at distribution hubs in Scotland and at Customs on both sides of the Channel. File photo: BBC.

Seafood Scotland has hired the services of two experienced export consultants to help tackle the post-Brexit administration issues that have had a debilitating impact on trade to Europe over the last four weeks.

Alastair Kennedy, of Lornal Consultants, and Steve Galloway, of Galloway & Associates, will work closely with companies to help them better understand the new business practices to export to the EU and Northern Ireland, including the customs and export certification processes.

The appointments are funded through the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Food and Drink’s joint Recovery Plan.

Seafood Scotland also hopes to appoint a consultant in the French seafood distribution centre of Boulogne-sur-Mer in the coming days to help give on-the-ground support from a European standpoint.

Donna Fordyce: Kennedy and Galloway
Donna Fordyce: Kennedy and Galloway "ready to hit the ground running".

Decades of experience

“The landmark funding from the Scottish Government has been welcomed by the sector and we’re pleased that we could get a team in place so quickly,” Seafood Scotland chief executive Donna Fordyce said in a press release.

“The first two appointments are armed with decades of industry experience and are ready to hit the ground running by immediately starting in their roles and tackling the most pertinent issues.

“However, there remain issues inherent to the system in place and therefore we are continuing to request a grace period so that the UK and EU can resolve these without it having a negative impact on trade in the meantime.

“Once these most immediate problems have been resolved, our team will then start to look at the bigger picture to establish how businesses can adapt and indeed thrive in the new post-Brexit era.”

Alastair Kennedy: Europe values Scottish seafood highly.
Alastair Kennedy: Europe values Scottish seafood highly.

‘Issues are resolvable’

Kennedy, who is based in the west of Scotland, said: “I’m really looking forward to getting the ball rolling. Having worked in the seafood sector for the last eight years, I know it is full of talented, passionate people who have had a really tough time of it over the last year.

“The seafood they produce is world-class and it will be truly rewarding to help get it back into Europe – a market that highly values its quality. There’s a lot of work to be done but many of the issues the sector currently faces are resolvable and I look forward to playing a part in making this happen.”

Expert support

Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the sector couldn’t wait for the UK Government to solve the administrative problems its poor Brexit deal had created.

“Our focus is on resolving the issues around exports and making sure the process runs as smoothly as possible which is why as an immediate priority we are funding these new posts to provide in-depth expert support to exporters across Scotland and help them navigate the new and onerous processes.

“We continue to back calls from our food and drink businesses for a six-month ‘grace period’ to allow exporters more time to digest the outcome of negotiations on a trade deal and prepare as best as they can.”

Problems for seafood exporters have ranged from a lack of clarity in relation to the information that’s required, inconsistencies as to how authorities in different ports have been applying the rules, and significant issues with the new systems companies are expected to use. This has meant that many Scottish seafood companies have struggled to get any product at all to their valued, long-standing European customers.

Tavish Scott:
Tavish Scott: "We need to work together."

Task force

The Scottish salmon industry has fared better than other seafood exporters because of its scale and administrative resources but has still been affected by the post-Brexit fall-out. The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) estimates that the industry lost business worth £3 million in the first week of January.

SSPO chief executive Tavish Scott is among those calling for a grace period. He has also called for a task force comprising Scottish and UK government ministers, senior officials, hauliers and agencies responsible for administering the new regulations, including Food Standards Scotland, to be set up to iron out export issues.

“These problems are not insurmountable, but we need to work together as a matter of urgency to get them sorted,” said Scott on Tuesday.