A salmon farm in Ireland. The seafood sector is concerned about the impact of Brexit on exports to the UK.

Fish farmers join Irish seafood sector’s Brexit task force

The aquaculture branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA Aquaculture) has welcomed the establishment of a Seafood Sector Task Force and has accepted an invitation to participate.

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IFA Aquaculture chairman Michael Mulloy said the aquaculture sector has been severely impacted by Brexit due to delays in logistics with transport, and additional paperwork for UK customs for seafood product and trade travelling via the UK “land-bridge”.

“Additional costs have emerged as a result of Brexit, with expected additional costs in transport and logistics, and unclarified costs, in the form of veterinary certification and inspections, upon entry into the UK as a third country,” added Mulloy.

Costs and fees

The IFA has been seeking immediate clarity from UK customs and agencies in Ireland regarding proposed costs and fees for companies trading with UK customers that could be hit with extraordinary costs for inspections fees per consignment entering the UK on a daily basis from April 1.

“IFA looks forward to working with the members of the task force and securing the best possible outcome for aquaculture producers from the recommended initiatives that will be made to the minister [for agriculture, food and the marine, Charlie McConalogue] to support our seafood sector and coastal communities, in particular securing a fair share for aquaculture producers from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve Fund,” said Mulloy.

£11m cost to Scottish salmon

The potential problems faced in Ireland mirror those of producers in Scotland who have been burdened by increased bureaucracy, costs and export delays since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.

A task force involving the UK and Scottish governments was established in mid-February following repeated requests from the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), which has pointed out that Brexit-related issues cost salmon producers £11 million from January 1 until the end of February.

The task force, run by the UK government’s Scotland Office, aims to locate and resolve bottlenecks in the export process to Europe.

Bypassing Britain

The volume of freight of all kinds being shipped across the Irish Sea from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain has fallen significantly since January 1, the BBC reported at the weekend.

Companies trying to avoid red tape and potential delays associated with Brexit are sending freight on much longer sea routes directly to the continent, rather than using the traditional land-bridge route across Britain.

In the week to February 22, freight volumes on Stena Line ferries from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain were down 49% compared to the same week last year, while volumes going directly to France were up 102%.

Stena has started a new route from Dublin to Cherbourg to go alongside its existing route from Rosslare to Cherbourg. It now has 14 weekly crossings between Ireland and the continent compared to six last year.

Another new route is run by DFDS Seaways from Rosslare to Dunkirk. DFDS says the service, which runs six times a week and takes just under 24 hours, is almost always oversubscribed. An announcement of additional sailings is expected shortly.