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Up To 40% Of Fish Sold At A Danish Auction This Year Is from Scottish Boats Avoiding Brexit Chaos In The UK

3 min read

Up to 40% of fish sold at an auction in Denmark so far in 2021 have come from Scottish boats, according to a a leading figure in the Nordic logistics industry.

British fishers are taking the drastic step of landing in the European Union to avoid the growing crisis in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to compensate Scottish seafood traders whose exports to the EU have been severely disrupted by the introduction of post-Brexit checks.

Traders exporting fish like salmon, oysters and langoustines to the continent say their orders are being cancelled due to delays in getting their fresh catch to customers in the EU.

The Scottish seafood industry is estimated to be losing at least £1million a day due European customers cancelling orders, PoliticsHome reported on Tuesday.

Some Scottish fishing boats have started landing in Denmark and having their exports processed there in order to circumvent time-consuming customs and health paperwork in Britain.

Jesper Kongsted, a leading figure in the Nordic logistics industry, told Danish TV station TV 2 that he estimates up to 40% of fish sold at an auction in the Danish town of Hanstholm came from Scottish fishermen.

The stark statistic indicates the scale of the crisis facing Scotland’s fishing industry, which Brexit campaigners like Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would be a major beneficiary of leaving the EU.

The pro-Brexit Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told an empty chamber on Thursday that the fish themselves were "British" and "happier" because of Brexit. 

Industry figures on Friday morning told PoliticsHome they were worried that Scottish boats circumventing the UK might not be a temporary workaround but the beginning of a permanent restructuring of Scotland’s economy that would threaten many jobs.

One major seafood exporter that didn’t want to be named has already confirmed that catch set to be exported to the EU next week will be processed in Denmark, rather than in Scotland.

The Scottish National Party yesterday accused Johnson’s government of being “asleep at the wheel” after two ministers were accused of not taking the disruption seriously enough.

The party called on fisheries minister Victoria Prentis to resign after she told a House of Lords committee that she didn’t read the UK-EU trade deal when it was agreed as she was “organising the local nativity trail”.

Scotland minister David Duguid was also accused of flippancy after replying “how long is a piece of string?” when asked by BBC Radio Scotland how long it’d take for the government to resolve the issues facing Scottish fishing traders.

A Downing Street spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that the government was “looking to compensate the fishing industry,” but didn’t provide further details.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We recognise the fishing industry are facing some temporary issues as businesses get used to new processes for exporting following the end of the Transition Period.

“Our priority is to ensure goods flow smoothly to market and we are working closely with industry and the authorities in EU countries to understand and address any issues with documentation.

“We are also looking at what additional financial support we can provide to support those businesses affected and we’ll provide more details on that in due course.”

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