Most Shetland fishing vessels staying ashore until Brexit transport situation improves

Two thirds of Shetland fishermen are reported to have been waiting ashore, hoping for the Brexit chaos to end. 

James Aitken at LHD, which acts as agents for 65 vessels based in Shetland and Orkney, said most of the fleet were staying on shore until the transport links improved.

It comes amid escalating concerns over the impact of Brexit red tape on the fishing sector. 

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said the industry faced “the worst of both worlds” after leaving the EU, and that “many in our industry now fear for their future”.

The poor prices available locally have even led some Scottish vessels taking a three day round trip to Denmark to secure better value.

Mr Aitken said none of the local boats had been landing in Denmark, and he did not expect that to happen. 

However, reports this week indicated that up to 40 per cent of fish sold at auctions in the Danish town of Hanstholm had come from Scottish vessels.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said the figures were “shocking” and a reminder that government complacency may turn short-term disruption into a long-term loss for parts of our fishing industry.

“Every fish sold in Denmark will be processed by someone working in Denmark,” he said. 

“That is work that could be done by a worker in the UK. As we rebuild our economy post-COVID we will need every job we can find.

“As a result of Boris Johnson’s bungling, coastal and island communities are left doing that with one hand tied behind their back.

“We need real focus now from ministers – exactly why I pushed for an urgent debate this week and why I am continuing to push all levers to get action.

“Jacob Rees-Mogg boasted that after Brexit we have “British fish” – they may be “British” but thanks to the Government’s incompetence on exports it seems a lot of them may be processed abroad in future. Mr Rees-Mogg treats fishing like a punchline but there are livelihoods on the line. We don’t want to be a political football and this is long past being about Brexit arguments – we just need action to support local businesses.”

A UK government spokesperson told the BBC the Prime Minister would respond to the SFF in due course.

The spokesperson said: “We have now taken back control of our waters and the agreement we have reached with the EU secures a 25 per cent transfer of quota from EU to UK vessels over five years, starting with 15 per cent  this year.”

The spokesperson said the government was looking at providing additional financial support for the Scottish fishing industry.

It acknowledged the industry was facing “some temporary issues”.

“The Prime Minister has already committed to investing £100m in the UK’s fishing industry and provided the Scottish government with nearly £200m to minimise disruption for businesses,” the spokesperson said.


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