LONDON (Reuters) – The post-Brexit woes facing Scotland’s fishing industry deepened on Saturday as its biggest logistics provider, DFDS Scotland, said it would halt exports to the European Union through one of its main services until at least Wednesday.
Previously the company had said it would take until Monday to resume its “groupage” export service – which allows exporters to ship multiple products in a single consignment – while it tries to fix IT issues, paperwork errors and a backlog of goods.
DFDS’s move represents another blow for Scottish fishermen who this week warned that their businesses could become unviable after Britain shifted to a less integrated trade deal with the EU at the turn of the year.
The introduction of health certificates, customs declarations and other paperwork has added days to delivery times and hundreds of pounds to the cost of each load, undermining a system that used to put fresh seafood into French shops just over a day after it was harvested.
In an email to customers forwarded to Reuters, DFDS Scotland said its decision was “very regrettable”, despite progress in addressing problems.
“It is very evident that it will take several more days in order to clear the backlog and allow us to resume the Groupage Export Service. It is for this reason that DFDS must extend the suspension of services until at least Wednesday,” the email said.
DFDS Scotland could not immediately be reached for comment.
Scotland harvests vast quantities of langoustines, scallops, oysters, lobsters and mussels from sea fisheries along its Atlantic coast which are rushed by truck to cater to European diners in Paris, Brussels and Madrid.
One exporter, SB Fish, said new trade obstacles since the start of the year had paralysed its fleet of 15 boats, each with a crew of three or four – affecting around 50 families.
“All our boats have been asked not to go out fishing till we have our hauliers back doing exports,” the company told Reuters.
Reporting by Kate Holton; Writing by Andy Bruce; Editing by David Holmes