A Highland seafood producer fears the local industry could collapse within weeks if the distribution crisis is not addressed.
Willie Calder runs Scrabster Seafoods, a leading wholesaler of white fish in the far north.
His company has been working with the three main distribution hubs in the central belt for the past year but last week the system failed, leaving Mr Calder with a consignment of fish he couldn’t shift for seven days.
He ended up suffering a loss of £63,000, a situation repeated for dozens of other wholesalers who share lorries to get their produce to the hub.
If one part of the load has an issue with paperwork, the whole load is held up under new post-Brexit arrangements.
Mr Calder said: “Last week we understood everything was good to go, so we all sent our goods to the hub, but I think they were caught sleeping and didn’t realise the amount of work involved.
“Since then we’ve sent nothing out, we are twiddling our thumbs with no answers from the authorities to the problem.
“Boats are starting to tie up now with no market.
“The increase in paperwork is massive, and I don’t think things will improve unless there’s a realisation that it’s too stringent.”
The Highland sea food market is worth more than £275m and employs more than 1,300 people over 30 sites.
Mr Calder said not generating income was putting his own business in jeopardy, along with others.
“It’s not looking rosy for us, we employ 20 to 30 people and would normally be exporting around £300,000 a week.
“It goes right though the supply chain. There will be huge consequences if this is not resolved.”
And longer term, the sector faces more challenges, with Mr Calder describing the Brexit deal as a “travesty”.
He said: “It’s an absolute embarrassment. The fishermen have ended up with less fish to catch, and now the task of exporting fish is extremely difficult.
“Had we had more access to fish in our own waters, you could put up with the problems we’re facing at the moment, knowing that in future things are going to get better, but there’s nothing to suggest this.
“Scottish boats can’t even buy a quota.
“It beggars belief. You think the politicians making these deals should be intelligent enough to know what they’re doing, but it’s absolutely frightening how bad a deal they’ve made of this.”
Scottish Seafood Association boss Jimmy Buchan added: “The blame game can come afterwards. What we need to do is all sit round the table and get the problems resolved.
“I will be suggesting that we set up a customs clearing house in Scotland, manned by French officials so that produce can then get into France smoothly.
“We can’t allow our French allegiance to be let down, we must jump through hoops to preserve it.
“And we cannot allow our Scottish seafoods brand name to be tarnished.”