THE UK Government has insisted the Scottish fishing industry is merely suffering “teething problems” despite apocalyptic warnings of closures across the fleet.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied the post-Brexit deal struck between the UK and EU was to blame and said it had created “huge sustainable opportunities”.
The message jarred with a series of recent alarm sounded by Scottish firms unable to export at a profit to the EU because of red tape and delays.
It emerged on Friday that some Scots boats were being forced to take a 48 hour round trip to Denmark to sell catch because of a collapse in prices at home.
They reported European customers were turning to fresh supplies closer to home because Scottish cargoes were taking too long to transport and were at risk of spoiling en route.
The price of some fish is reported to have dropped 80 per cent at Peterhead market since the new regime came into effect on January 1.
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Donna Fordyce, chief executive of the Seafood Scotland, told Scotland on Sunday: “If this cannot be quickly resolved, we will see companies closing, we will see some of the fleet going out of business.”
She said the impact of Brexit has compounded stresses created by the Covid pandemic.
“They’re in a very precarious state, There’s no resilience left. Whatever reserves they had have been eaten away,” she said.
However on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Raab said fishing industry had got “a great deal”, with “full control as an independent coastal state”.
He said: “There’s an immediate 15 per cent uplift in our access to fisheries for the UK sector in the first year.
“That rises to two-thirds in the five-year transition period, then we have annual negotiations.
“Of course the fishing industry is going to want to increase its capacity to take advantage of those increased stocks, and that’s why we’re putting in £100m to shore up, to strengthen the fishing industry right across the whole of the UK, to make sure this really important opportunity of leaving the EU and leaving the transition period can be properly grasped.”
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Mr Raab was then read accounts from Scottish fishermen about red tape stopping them from exporting to their main EU market, threatening firms with closure within days.
He said he was “not convinced” that was a result of the deal the UK had struck with the EU on post-brexit trade.
He said: “The agreement we have struck, both short-term and medium-term and long-term, will create huge sustainable opportunities.
“Of course, we’ve always said, as we leave the transition period, and with a deal, and even more if we haven’t had a deal, there will be some teething problems.
“We’re very focused on working with all the different sectors, including the fishing industry to resolve any of these teething problems.
“And as I said, there’s £100m of investment going into the UK fishing sector so that these really important opportunities to be grasped.”