Scottish salmon’s EU protection status must be kept after no-deal Brexit, says Fergus Ewing

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“I wish again to put on record that the Scottish government find the approach being adopted by the UK government deeply concerning,” said the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary.

As Brexit looms, with a no-deal expected in October, Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said if that is the case then Scotch whisky and salmon must get the same protection, reports the BBC.

Geographical indications scheme
Under the EU, a geographical indications scheme protects farmed salmon. They are a form of intellectual property that is used to identify a food or drink product as originating in a specific geographical location, such as a country, region or local area, and they can’t be made or produced anywhere else.

The issue is that after the UK leaves, all existing UK products registered under EU GI schemes will automatically get UK GI status and will remain protected in the UK. But those protections in the EU are still unclear.

In June, SalmonBusiness talked to Chairman of The Protected Food Names Association Matthew O’Callaghan, who said that while they successfully lobbied for a new UK scheme – though that’s not the end of it.

EU
“What may happen is that the UK may register as a third country,”  explained O’Callaghan. Columbia has a PGI recognition with the EU for coffee, for example. “The UK will set up its own food protection scheme but it won’t protect UK goods in the EU,” he said. “The question is what happens in the EU.”

Writing to the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Theresa Villiers, Ewing said her department’s “deeply concerning” position was “causing real uncertainty”.

Ewing wrote: “I wish again to put on record that the Scottish government find the approach being adopted by the UK government deeply concerning”.

“It is not enough to simply hope and believe that the EU will not take steps to remove existing UK GIs from their registers, especially if we are not to protect their GI products from day one in the UK scheme”.

“This stance is causing real uncertainty for producers and I implore you to do more to attempt to secure this mutual recognition in negotiations taking place.”

Own GI schemes
In response, a Defra spokeswoman told the BBC that geographical indicators “played a crucial role in protecting the provenance and heritage of some of our best-loved food and drink products”.

She added: “That is why the UK is ready to launch its own GI schemes at the point at which EU rules cease to apply in the UK.

“Our amazing food sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling ever more, not just here but around the world once we leave the EU on October 31.”