‘Apocalyptic’– French fishermen ‘set back 30 years’ as Brexit red tape leaves catch to rot

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French seafood importers from the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer said deliveries were being held up because the Latin names of fish species were being entered incorrectly on papers. There were other reasons for the delays, one was that sanitary certificates were missing the required stamps. Added to this was a further complication of French agents adopting a zero-tolerance attitude to mistakes in the customs process.

This has all resulted in a breakdown in supply chains from the outer reaches of the British Isles to the northern French port of Boulogne.

The French port used to receive Scottish langoustine and scallops around 24 hours after they were caught.

Now, some deliveries are not getting through at all and others are taking at least one or two days longer than usual.

Arnaud Mille, the head of sourcing at French fish importer Demarne Freres, said: “We’ve never known such delays.

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“It’s been apocalyptic.”

The disruption caused by the red tape has meant it is impossible for importers to place orders in a truck carrying multiple consignments from different suppliers.

Mr Mille said he had contacted French customs officials asking them to be less severe in their bureaucracy resolutions.

However, he has yet to receive a response.

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The delays have meant that British seafood is not able to arrive at European markets as fresh as it did before Brexit.

Mr Mille had described how English-caught crab had arrived at his warehouse a day late, and because of the hold-ups, 20 percent of the crustaceans had rotted.

Brexit has now set back decades of cooperation between Britain and the Boulogne-sur-mer, which is Europe’s largest fish processing centre.

Mr Mille said: “We’ve lost 30 years.”

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Brexit has caused a return of a customs border and additional paperwork and costs for seafood destined for France.

The EU is now demanding mandatory sanitary checks on products coming from the UK.

One French importer, Stephane Pruvost, chief executive of fish processor JP Maree, said he had suspended all imports from Britain.

He has now decided to source his salmon and monkfish from Norway and Denmark.

He said: “When you have fewer sellers, there’s less choice on price, and sometimes quality.

“For now we’ve no other choice.”

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