Scottish fishermen turn to Denmark to bypass EU red-tape

A little over two weeks after the end of the UK Brexit transition period, and the Scottish fishing industry is fighting for survival.

Scottish fishermen have increasingly turned to fish auctions in Denmark in order to avoid having their deliveries to the EU blocked by red tape.

A fish auction in Hanstholm on Denmark’s west coast has so far this year sold 525 tonnes of fish from Scottish fishing vessels, more than double compared to the same period last year.

“We’ve had an awful lot of inquiries from Scottish fishermen about landing their catch in Hanstholm,” Jesper Kongsted, who heads the auction, told Reuters on Friday. “This is very good for our business.”

Scottish fishing companies say they face ruin, as several EU countries rejected UK exports after new customs demands delayed the arrival of their fresh produce.

As a result, prices at fish auctions in Scotland plummeted at the beginning of the year. Kongsted said two Scottish brothers had earned an extra 300,000 Danish crowns (£35,000) by selling 22 tonnes of hake in Hanstholm rather than at an auction in Peterhead in Scotland.

“Our industry is facing mounting financial losses. Many fishing vessels are tied to the quay wall,” Elspeth Macdonald, head of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

“Some are now making a 72-hour round trip to land fish in Denmark, as the only way to guarantee that their catch will make a fair price and actually find its way to market while still fresh enough to meet customer demands,” Macdonald said.


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