Boris attacked for ‘pig-headed’ approach to EU’s shellfish ban after ‘botching’ talks

Brexit: UK ready to play ‘hardball’ over fisheries says Lia Nici

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Nearly two months after British shellfish exporters were hit by the new rules, Mr Johnson has not yet found a solution and firms are growing increasingly worried about the impact. The Prime Minister is reportedly considering imposing retaliatory measures on Brussels by restricting imports of seed potatoes and mineral water.

But Nicki Holmyard, director of Offshore Shellfish in Brixham, Devon, said instead of responding by slapping on bans of his own, Mr Johnson should find a solution.

She and her husband John are in the process of building the UK’s first large-scale fully offshore, rope cultured mussel farm.

Up until December 31 the firm sold mussels to buyers in Europe, their main market, before it dried up overnight.

She said the “complete stop” in trade was unsurprising because the UK and the EU had failed to include a clause in their trade deal which would have addressed the issue.

She told “In our opinion, the UK Government dropped the ball on this and has responded very badly.

“We had been warning them for nearly two years that we would be unable to export to the EU unless they negotiated a derogation for UK bivalve molluscs from class B waters, whether from fishing or aquaculture (as ours are).

“The Government continues to insist that the EU is wrong and has changed their minds, but they have yet to publish any evidence to this effect.

“It is the UK Government advice that appears to be wrong on this.

“We want them to step up. We want to see some progress on this issue. “

Under EU law mussels, cockles, clams, oysters and scallops cannot be imported from a third country if they are caught in class B waters.

As the UK is no longer a member of the bloc, they are now considered a third country and Brussels has so far refused to make an exception for the former member state.

Shellfish exporters have warned they will be forced to close their businesses if the European market does not reopen for their products soon.

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Ms Holmyard said she will have to make crucial decisions about the future of her firm over the coming months and may be forced to pack up if a solution to the ban isn’t found.

She argued that slapping on retaliatory restrictions on EU goods is not the sensible approach and urged the Government to instead thrash out an agreement with the Europeans.

The company director said it would also be in Europe’s best interests to have the ban lifted, as customers on the continent have also suffered as a consequence.

She explained: “We want the Government to discuss the issue with the EU in a sensible manner and find a resolution.

“It either requires a change in the law, in order for the ban to be lifted, or for a derogation to be put in place.

“It is individual companies that are getting badly hurt by a pig-headed Government that botched Brexit negotiations.

“We need them to urgently put it right.

“We’re trying everything we can to get the ban overturned or to find some other solution. We are extremely worried about it.”

While the UK was a member of the EU, shellfish caught in class B water were allowed to be sold to other member states.

Once they had been shopped across the Channel and reached their destination the shellfish were purified in clean seawater tanks to have any contaminants removed.

Shellfish caught off the coast of Scotland have not been affected by the EU’s ban as the waters are in the class A clean category.

But those caught and farmed in the class B waters off the south-west of England and Wales fall short of the bloc’s food safety standards for third countries.

An official in the European Commission said earlier this month: “British exports have to fulfil the rules applied to a third country.”

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