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Brexit shatters supply chain for fish trade

Brexit has caused a chaotic breakdown in the trade in fish between Britain and the EU.

With new rules in place, deliveries from all over the UK to France now take one or two days longer than before.

In some cases, French fishmongers and seafood merchant have suspended orders from Britain altogether.

Traders blame cumbersome bureaucracy, including mandatory sanitary checks.

Arnaud Mille is head of sourcing at Demarne Freres in Boulogne – which counts Britain as its number one supplier.

“We’ve moved to completely extraordinary systems – shipments sent on Monday arriving on Wednesday, on Thursday, or even on Friday depending on each supplier. So it has been completely chaotic, and we had to try to get back our various batches and supplies, it’s a week that’s gotten absolutely out of hand.”

The delays mean seafood is not always hitting European markets as fresh as it once did.

Mille said thirty years of progress had been lost, and called the situation ‘apocalyptic’.

It’s also causing problems for truckers delivering stock.

Scottish truck driver Robert Marshall spent a day sat in his cab at Boulogne’s sanitary control checkpoint waiting to drop off his salmon cargo.

The hold-up came about due to an issue with his customs documents, which had to be fixed.

“I am looking to see if it’s going to be worth me doing this, because normally a trip takes me three days, last week, it took me four and a half. And if that continues, then it’s not really making any money – I’m losing money basically. So I will be looking at this over the next couple of months just to see if it is viable.”

Fish exports have also been hit in the opposite direction.

French wholesalers say new rules have made some shipments to the UK impossible, and added hundreds of euros to costs.

Video Transcript

Brexit has caused a chaotic breakdown in the trade in fish between Britain and the EU. With new rules in place, deliveries from all over the UK to France now take one or two days longer than before. In some cases, French fishmongers and seafood merchants have suspended orders from Britain altogether. Traders blame cumbersome bureaucracy, including mandatory sanitary checks.

[INAUDIBLE] is head of sourcing at [INAUDIBLE] in Bologna, which counts Britain as its number one supplier.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: We’ve moved to completely extraordinary systems. Shipments sent on Monday, arriving on Wednesday, on Thursday, or even Friday, depending on each supplier. So it has been completely chaotic. And we had to try to get back our various batches and supplies. It’s a week that’s gotten absolutely out of hand.

The delays mean seafood is not always hitting European markets as fresh as it once did. Mil said 30 years of progress had been lost and called the situation apocalyptic. It’s also causing problems for truckers delivering stock. Scottish truck driver Robert Marshall spent a day sat in his cab at Bologna sanitary control checkpoint waiting to drop off his salmon cargo. The holdup came about due to an issue with his customs documents which had to be fixed.

ROBERT MARSHALL: I am looking to see if it is going to be worth me doing this. Because it is taking me– Normally a trip takes me three days. Last week it took me 4 and 1/2. And if that continues, then it’s not really making any money. Well, I’m losing money basically. So I will be looking at this over the next couple of months just to see if it is viable.

Fish exports have also been hit in the opposite direction. French wholesalers say new rules have made some shipments to the UK impossible and added hundreds of euros to costs.

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