North-east fishing leaders are demanding urgent talks with the UK Government after likening the shambles created by Brexit to a “motorway crash”.
Michael Gove told businesses last week to prepare for disruption at the border as France ordered its ports to crack down on lorries arriving from Britain with incorrect paperwork.
Businesses lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sales as a result, after trawlers had to remain in port and stock was left in lorries during the bureaucratic hold-ups.
Many traders now fear they will go broke through the permanent loss of continental trade, with things expected to get even worse this week.
Chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, Jimmy Buchan, last night said there needed to be an “urgent” approach to finding a solution.
Mr Buchan said: “There’s now a mountain of paperwork to produce for each species.
“You might have a product with 10 different items, and the paper work escalates quickly.
“Before we knew it, things started to go awry. At the other side and there were glitches with computers, but I don’t think it’s just problems with IT to blame for this.
“It’s like a motorway crash and there’s people with L plates and experienced drivers all caught up in it.”
Concerns have also been raised as the delays mean that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fish are being destroyed and ending up in landfill.
The new red tape also means that every box of fresh seafood and salmon has to be offloaded from lorries and inspected by vets before they leave Scotland – which can take up to five hours.
Mr Buchan added “Obviously tempers are at breaking points and I fully understand that. This situation needs calm heads, we need to sit down and identify the real problems to get the industry moving again.
“We are trying our damnedest to rectify this and there’s a real sense of urgency to sit down with those in the industry and the government and work through the problems bit my bit.
“We’ve got to work with logistical companies and find solutions so we can continue to buy fish and keep the supply chain going to France and beyond.”
David Leiper, the director of Peterhead-based exporters Seafood Ecosse, told the Sunday Post one of his biggest worries was letting down regular customers on the continent who he has traded with for many years.
He said: “Last week I cancelled orders to Europe that would have been worth about £300,000 because I couldn’t guarantee when they would get there.
“These deliveries were to people we have had a good relationship with for decades and now it has come to this.
“If the situation worsens it will have a catastrophic effect on our prices.”
A spokesman for the UK Government said they are “working closely with the industry to help understand and address the issue”.
He added: “This includes ensuring that the UK and French systems are functioning properly.
“We are contacting exporters, their representatives and transporters to help them understand the requirements to keep their goods moving.
“It is vital exporters check they have entered in details correctly and ensure that they have provided the transporter of the goods with the correct documentation.
“We urge the Scottish Government to ensure they have appropriate staffing levels in place to certify documentation and ensure there are no delays to food exports.
“We have given the Scottish Government nearly £200 million to prepare for leaving the EU, to minimise disruption and guarantee business readiness.”