The Brexit deal being pursued by the UK Government is likely to place “huge unnecessary burdens” on the UK’s biggest food export, Scottish salmon, according to the trade body for the sector.
Scottish salmon exports to the European Union do not need Export Health Certificates (EHCs) at the moment because of free movement of goods within the EU, said the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO).
However, it now appears inevitable that these exports will need EHCs after the end of this year when the Brexit transition phase is over because of the UK government's decision not to align with EU regulations in the future.
In financial terms, the cost of this for Scottish farmed salmon will be between £1.3 million ($1.6 million/€1.5 million) and £8.7 million ($11.2 million/€10.3 million) annually, depending on the amount charged by councils for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per lorry load, said SSPO.
In bureaucratic terms, it could mean the processing and signing of an extra 50,000 to 100,000 EHCs every year, each one of which has to be signed by either an environmental health officer or a veterinarian.
“We now send more than £190 million ($245 million/€225 million) worth of salmon to France, a third of our total exports," said SSPO CEO Julie Hesketh-Laird.
“Scottish farmed salmon is the UK’s biggest food export. Once in the main French markets, the salmon can then be dispatched to almost anywhere in the EU.
“We deal in a perishable product so it is crucial for the thousands of loyal customers we have in the EU that we get our fresh fish to key markets as quickly and smoothly as possible.
“The addition of an Export Health Certificate for every order of salmon to the EU would place huge unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burdens on our sector – potentially undermining one of the UK’s biggest modern export success stories.
“About 300 salmon orders are dispatched to the EU every day by road and through the Channel Tunnel. If each one – or even each lorry load – had to have an extra certificate, signed by a vet or an environmental health officer, it would not only add delays and cost to Scottish salmon exports, it would give our international competitors an advantage they would be unlikely to pass up."