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Salmon Scotland urges post-Brexit digital push to slash costs

Loch Duart salmon catch
Salmon Scotland says member companies have faced an extra £3m in export costs each year since Britain left the EU.

Scotland’s farm-raised salmon sector is pushing the UK government to speed up removal of the post-Brexit paperwork system for exporting goods to the EU.

Salmon Scotland maintains member companies have faced an extra £3 million in export costs each year since Britain left the Brussels body.

In a letter to UK Fisheries minister Victoria Prentis, Salmon Scotland called for the shift to a digital export health certificate (EHC) system to be accelerated by the British government.

The association says the new system is due to replace the current “costly paper process,” but there is, as yet, no date for implementation and roll out.

Farm-raised salmon is the UK’s largest food export.

Online trials successful

Trials of a new online system – with consignments of salmon being sent to the EU using digital certificates – have shown what can be achieved in terms of efficiency and cost reduction for the wider seafood industry adds the trade body.

“I would reiterate how important it is to get the new system up and running as soon as possible,” said Salmon Scotland chief executive, Tavish Scott in his letter to the minister.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of the salmon farm trade body, Salmon Scotland.

“Salmon producing companies are already having to cope with steeply rising production costs (most notably in feed and fuel) and now face increased paperwork costs because of the EHC changes which were introduced in January (2021).

“We really believe the time taken to process EHCs will reduce considerably when the system is moved online, the number of errors will be massively reduced and the whole system will need fewer staff and less time to process – cutting down the costs and delays which are plaguing the system at the moment.”

Mr Scott also called for the UK government to cover extra costs being imposed on businesses as a direct result of the current export system.

“Farm-raised salmon is the UK’s largest food export, with overseas sales of salmon exceeding £600m last year,” added Mr Scott.

Producers reluctant to pass on any Brexit costs

Salmon Scotland does not gather information on retail prices, but noted its members were striving not to raise prices of their products as a result of extra Brexit bureaucracy.

“While Scottish salmon producers have had to cope with increased costs as a result of Brexit and the extra paperwork this has caused, they have endeavoured not to pass on any of these extra costs to consumers,” said a Salmon Scotland spokesperson.

Salmon sector supports 3,600 suppliers in Scotland

In 2021, the industry exported £372m worth of salmon into the EU. This reflected a 29% increase in value and a 32% increase in volume compared to the previous year.

The salmon sector adds more than £640m to the British economy every year.  At the same time, it spends £370m supporting more than 3,600 suppliers across Scotland.

More than 2,500 people are directly employed in salmon farming throughout the UK.

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