Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has said there is little confidence left in George Eustice as DEFRA Secretary after a seafood organisation warned that Brexit red tape could be the “demise” of small fishing businesses.
Seafood Scotland has said that the cost associated with new checks and paperwork since the EU transition ended in January are too much for the sector to bear. Delays at the border at the start of the year cost firms more than £1 million a day and the annual cost of new paperwork is estimated at around “£250,000 to £500,000 a year”. Donna Fordyce, Seafood Scotland boss, told MPs she fears long-term damage is now being done to the industry.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Donna Fordyce’s testimony was damning to government claims that businesses are merely facing “teething problems”. After a litany of failures, missteps and ignorance on the part of DEFRA ministers it is hard to see how the fishing industry can have any confidence in George Eustice going forward. He has treated fishermen as a problem to be managed rather than as real people with real concerns. They are living with the consequences of this Government’s contempt.”
“We are already seeing in parts of the country that seafood businesses are going under because they cannot afford to trade on the terms created by the Government’s deal. Without meaningful improvement from the Government we may yet see that across the industry. There needs to be a reset of efforts by ministers – starting with a reset of those at the top of DEFRA.”