A Fisherman In Yorkshire Says He is Closing His 40-Year-Old Business Due To Brexit Red Tape
A decades-old shellfish trader based at a major British port has said that it has been forced to close due to new paperwork brought about by the UK's exit from the European Union.
Sam Baron, owner of Baron Shellfish Limited, announced in the Fishing News group on Facebook on Saturday he was shutting down the family business after years of exporting lobsters and crabs to customers on the continent.
It was set up by Baron's father on the northeast coast four decades ago, according to The Yorkshire Post.
"With deep sadness in my heart I write to you today to inform you that I've had to let my business head over rule my heart and bring Baron Shellfish Limited to closure," Baron said in a Facebook post.
He said that the company was the first lobster tank business in Yorkshire's Bridlington Harbour and grew by taking "total advantage of the common market" and "selling direct customers in the EU".
The business eventually developed into "more a dispatch centre to the EU" as its sales to European customers increased, Baron said.
The UK's fish exporters to the EU have faced huge disruption since the UK left the single market and customs union on New Year's Eve, with traders having to complete stringent health and customs paperwork in order to get their catch to customers in Europe.
The mountain of new red tape has led to fresh fish exports that once took place overnight being delayed by several days, resulting in orders being cancelled and fish exports destroyed.
PoliticsHome reported last month that some fishers in the Scottish industry, which has been acutely impacted by the post-Brexit disruption, have resorted to landing in Denmark and having their catch processed there in order to circumvent chaos in Britain. The government has created a new fishing task force in an attempt to address the issues facing the industry, amid warnings that businesses will collapse unless exporting to the EU becomes easier.
The taskforce, made up of ministers from the governments in Westminster and Holyrood, is expected to meet for the first time this week.
The government has already announced that affected traders will be able to apply for grants worth up to £100,000 as part of a £23 million financial package for the indutry.
James Withers of Scotland Food & Drink last week told MPs that the government had made "catastrophic decisions" for the fish industry and that it had been a "dreadful first few weeks of trading" since the UK left the Brexit transition period.
Withers last month told PoliticsHome that the disruption was costing the Scottish industry around £1 million a day.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the trade deal struck by the UK and EU in December as a victory for UK fishers. Under the treaty, which came into effect on January 1, the EU share of fish caught in British waters will be reduced by a quarter over five-and-a-half years.
However, the new trading arrangements mean that businesses selling fish to the EU need to fill in paperwork like Export Health Certificates, which must be certified by vets before crossing the border.
Responding to the Baron Shellfish announcement, a government spokesperson said: “We recognise the temporary issues the fishing industry is facing. We are working closely with fishing industry representatives right across the UK, and the authorities in EU Member States, to ensure that goods can continue to flow smoothly to market.
“We have announced a £23 million scheme which will provide crucial support for fishermen and seafood exporters, who have experienced delays and a lack of demand for fish from the restaurant industry in the UK and Europe. This is in addition to the £100 million fund announced by the Prime Minister last month".
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