Seafood truckers slapped with fines while protesting Brexit fishing deal in London

18 January 2021, 13:20 | Updated: 18 January 2021, 15:42

By Asher McShane

Dozens of Scottish seafood lorries joined a protest in central London today against being "tied in knots with paperwork" by the Brexit fishing deal.

As many as 20 HGVs descended on roads near 10 Downing Street in response to the issues they have faced in exporting seafood to the EU.

Police were seen speaking to drivers of the lorries from a number of Scottish seafood companies, as well as a few English ones, after they lined up on roads near Parliament Square.

The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that 14 people had been issued with fines.

The trucks carried messages including: "Incompetent government destroying the seafood industry".

Exports of fresh fish and seafood have been severely disrupted by delays since the UK's transition period ended on December 31.

One exporter told LBC today they were having to deal with "hundreds" of pages of paperwork and their costs had increased.

Some Scottish fishermen have been landing their catch in Denmark to avoid the "bureaucratic system" that exports to Europe now involve.

A spokesperson from DR Collin & Son, who were taking part in the protest, said: "We have been asked to take part in a peaceful protest with another 20-plus Shellfish Exporters from around the whole of the UK in connection with the current difficulties that the seafood industry is facing due to the new Brexit regulations.

"The industry is being tied in knots with paperwork requirements which would be easy enough to navigate, given that companies have put in the time and training in order to have all the relevant procedures in place for 1st January 2021.

"However, all the training is going to waste as the technology is outdated and cannot cope with the demands being placed on it - which in turn is resulting in no produce being able to leave the UK.

"These are not 'teething issues' as reported by the Government and the consequences of these problems will be catastrophic on the lives of fishermen, fishing towns and the shellfish industry as a whole.

"Action needs to be taken urgently to allow the procedures to be realigned in a manner which reflects the time restraints faced in the export of live shellfish to Europe.

"We are trying to adapt our business together with our customers with a view to come into line with the new regulations, however, no-one is listening to our industry."

Alasdair Hughson, Scottish Creel Fisherman's Federation chairman, said: "It is inevitable that the UK Shellfish industry would want to make its voice heard loud and clear on this matter.

"After the year that all of these businesses have had, struggling to survive against the odds, now faced with this situation, to now find themselves being blamed for not completing forms correctly when they are all just trying to follow Government guidelines which are unclear and changing all of the time.

"If this debacle does not improve very soon we are looking at many established businesses coming to the end of the line. With the knock on effects for all who depend on them, including the hundreds of small fishing businesses in extremely fragile communities around our coasts who rely on these trucks to turn up day after day, week after week, to get their catch to market.

"From seabed to plate, this is not an easy business. People put their heart and soul into making it work, with ridiculously long hours. The blood, sweat and tears poured into their operations.

"What else can they do but fight to make their voices heard. We need Government and civil service to step up to the plate like never before and do whatever they can to help this industry survive and get through this so that we can all benefit when things improve.

"All we want to do is roll up our sleeves and get to work supporting our communities. We don't have all the answers but they are out there and we need to find them."