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Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, has urged the UK government to proceed with caution over changes to the Northern Ireland protocol. Photo: Seafood Scotland
Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, has urged the UK government to proceed with caution over changes to the Northern Ireland protocol. Photo: Seafood Scotland

Seafood Scotland has reiterated a warning from the salmon sector that proposed changes to the Northern Ireland protocol could spark a damaging trade war with the EU.

Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, responding to the statement on Northern Ireland by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss yesterday, said: “Any action that has the potential to upset the still precarious trade movements between the UK and the EU will be most unwelcome for Scotland’s seafood sector.

“On behalf of the fishing communities, processors, fishing families and the hundreds of other people who depend on the seafood trade for a living, we urge the UK government to proceed with caution and to keep talking, in the hope of finding an amicable solution to the challenges arising from the protocol.”

The Foreign Secretary set out plans on Tuesday to table a bill that would amend the protocol, waiving all checks on goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland where they are not destined for the Republic of Ireland.

Power-sharing

The government is trying to placate the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), which is refusing to enter a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin at Stormont unless the protocol is altered.

But the European Commission has threatened to respond with “all measures at its disposal” if Truss presses ahead with the changes.

Fordyce said: “The EU’s rhetoric of ‘consequences’ is ominous, and there is so much to be lost in the trade off. From impact on costs, duty, ease of movement, to tying our exporters up in even more red tape, this latest news will be a blow to Scottish companies who have been working around the clock to get back on track, maintaining sales and securing jobs in coastal communities throughout Scotland.

“The system for moving goods to the EU is far from perfect, but we have reached a point where movement is at least possible.  A step back to the hold ups that hit us immediately after Brexit will cost Scotland dearly, once again.”

Yesterday, Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, wrote to Boris Johnson, warning the Prime Minister that a collision course with Europe “really is the last thing our exporters need at this time”.