EU’s ‘devastating’ Brexit export ban cripples UK fishing industry – Boris urged to act NOW

Brexit: Expert expresses concern for fishing industry future

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Nicki Holmyard, director of Offshore Shellfish in Brixham, Devon, said she is bracing for the “disastrous” worst case scenario of having to close her shellfish farm due to the post-Brexit trade fiasco. Under EU rules, imports of live shellfish from third countries are banned if they are caught in class B waters, the secondary category of clean waters.

Despite mounting pressure to relax the rules, Brussels has said it will stick firmly to the ban indefinitely because the UK is now a third country.

Molluscs caught off the shores of Scotland are still being shipped across the Channel because the waters are in the class A category.

But mussels, oysters, clams and cockles, caught in the class B waters off Wales and the south-west of England are not being accepted.

Ms Holmyard said she is looking at every possible way for her firm to overcome the challenges as the thought of having to close is “awful”.

She told “Having to close the company, that’s the worst-case scenario.

“If this can’t be sorted out we really need to think, well how can we carry on?

“It’s just not feasible to do what we want to do in this country if we can’t continue the business.

“It takes a long time to actually build and then find the markets to absorb what you’re growing and that market was Europe.

“This is the model that we have built our entire business on so the thought that it might be taken away is really quite devastating for us.”

Offshore Shellfish was founded 30 years ago and set up a new farm in Brixham in 2015.

The contract allows the firm, which employs 15 staff, to grow a total of 10,000 tonnes of shellfish in the area.

So far, the farm has reached a third of its production capacity.

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Ms Holmyard wrote to Stella Kyriakides, the EU’s commissioner for health and food safety, urging her to overturn the ban or else make an exception for the UK.

However, she received a disappointing reply saying her request was unlikely to be granted.

Now, she said Offshore Shellfish will have to make urgent decisions on whether to keep building their farm out to sea or to scale back.

She explained: “Every year we wanted to continue building out until we’ve reached the maximum.

“But we’ve got to make decisions now about whether we put out more equipment this year, what we do with the farm.

“You’ve got to plan now for two, three years ahead, it’s always forward planning with farming.

“So within a few months we need to have made serious decisions or look to winding down and that will be disastrous.

“We’re not just giving up. We’re looking to see how we can keep this going.

“It would be awful if we had to start taking stuff away again.”

Ms Holmyard is calling on Government ministers to urgently address the issue with their European counterparts and find a solution to help the industry and protect jobs.

Earlier this month Commission officials said the bloc would not exempt Britain from the rules, insisting it would be subject to the same regulation for other non-member countries.

Before the post-Brexit transition period ended on December 31, live shellfish caught in class B waters in the UK were subjected to a purification process once they had reached their destination in Europe.

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