Key piece of paperwork at the heart of export delays to the EU should be completely redrawn and simplified.
In a press release, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation Tavish Scott said there was an urgent need for the Export Health Certificate (EHC) to be re-designed.
“Scottish salmon producers have had to cope with significant delays since the Brexit transition period ended on January 1 and the full effects of Brexit came into effect,” he said.
According to figures collated by the SSPO, Scotland’s salmon producers are spending GBP 0.2 million a month on extra paperwork because of Brexit.
This GBP 2.5 million annual bill will come on top of the delays, cancellations and problems which have cost the sector millions of pounds in lost orders, lower prices and cancelled harvests.
It now takes about two hours for each seafood load to be processed and given an export health certificate for transport to the EU and, in some case, this process is taking four hours or longer.
“These delays mean salmon is not arriving in France on time, leading to lost orders, discounted sales and disgruntled customers,” said Scott.
Scott has asked the UK Government to look into this issue as a matter of urgency and he raised the issue personally with Michael Gove MP, the UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, on a recent call.
“Seafood exports are fundamentally important for both the Scottish and UK economies. Salmon is the UK’s number one food export. So we need Government to reduce the costs and complexity that our sector faces,” said Scott.
He had received a verbal assurance from Gove that the UK Government would look to re-design, re-draw and simplify the export certificate, which can run to dozens of pages for each order.
One of the biggest problems with the certificate is that numerous boxes have to crossed out by certifying officers, scoring out all products which the supplier is not exporting to the EU.
“I welcome the commitment that the UK Government has given to initiate a system review of Export Health Certificates. They were never designed for perishable products like salmon and therefore never should have been the document we are forced to use as exporters,” concluded Scott.