The Environment Secretary, George Eustice has stated that the government has been compelled to advise traders that consignments of shellfish are likely to be rejected at European Union (EU) ports. New Brexit bureaucracy has resulted in an EU ban on shellfish imports. The British government has stated that it is a “devastating blow” for the industry. George Eustice said it is “in the EU’s interest to restore this trade” but the EU has said that the rules have existed for decades and are not going change.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020), clams, scallops, oysters, mussels, and cockles from most United Kingdom (UK) waters can only be exported If they are purified before departure and they must have an export health certificate. As this was not a requirement whilst being in the single market, the UK industry is not organized to work in this manner.
The UK government believed the EU would change its rules from April to relax restrictions, but the EU has stated that this will not happen. UK shellfish catches were valued at £393 million in 2019 and the future of the export is now at risk.
Shellfish from the cleanest seas are exempt from the purification requirement, but most UK waters are not in this category. UK shellfish exporters have stated that they do not have enough purification tanks and the length of the process would put them at a disadvantage as most customers prefer fresh fish.
This multimillion-pound industry has been forced to stop suddenly putting jobs and communities at risk.
Baron Shellfish in Bridlington, East Yorkshire has been a lobster exporter for 60 years and has now announced that it is winding up its business because of the Brexit bureaucracy. Sam Baron, who took over the family business from his father said, “I am winding up the business while I still have enough to pay redundancy to my staff” and he accused the government of not being upfront with the fishing industry about the disadvantages of its policies.