Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today condemned reports that live shellfish exports to the EU would continue to be banned “indefinitely”, despite assertions by the Fisheries Minister and other government officials that the ban would last only until 21st April. Mr Carmichael has written to the Fisheries Minister requesting an urgent plan of action to negotiate an end to the ban, which risks severely harming scallop producers in both Orkney and Shetland.
Commenting on the letter, Mr Carmichael said:
“An indefinite ban on live shellfish exports would be catastrophic for isles scallop catches – I am calling for urgent answers and action from the Fisheries Minister. The seafood industry needs a memorandum of understanding with the EU so that our businesses can have some measure of stability and confidence in their trading.
“You cannot tell people there is no problem when reality is staring you in the face. DEFRA ministers must have known for some time that the shellfish export ban would continue and yet they left it to the European Commission to tell the industry – there is no excuse for giving false hope to exporters. How can businesses have confidence in government advice when they get more accurate answers from elsewhere?”
“This is yet another example of what fishermen and exporters have been saying for weeks – these are not “teething problems”, they are long-term structural issues. The Government must recognise that fact and take more serious action.”