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Marine / MP questions compensation scheme after fish exporter made £30,000 loss in first week of post-Brexit trading

Lerwick fish market. Photo: Shetland News

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has again pressed the government on the compensation scheme for fish traders post-Brexit after parliament heard an exporter in Shetland suffered a £30,000 loss in the first week of new arrangements earlier this year.

Carmichael said his constituent had to shift £50,000 worth of fish locally due to export problems – but only managed to sell it for £20,000 as a result.

“Had he left the fish to sit and rot, he would have got £50,000 in compensation but because he mitigated his loss he was told, “No. You have sold your fish, so you will not get a penny piece of compensation,” he said in parliamentary debate on fisheries this week.

“It all contributes to the feeling among the catchers and processors and exporters that they are just a wee bit too much trouble for this Government to care about.”

Export bottlenecks emerged at the French border and on the UK mainland in January due issues with health checks, IT systems and customs documents, leading to the Shetland fishing industry slowing down until a backlog cleared.

Carmichael asked minister of state for the department for environment, food and rural affairs Victoria Prentis to look at the administration of the compensation scheme set up by the government.

The MP said they have discussed the case in the past, but she would be “delighted” to talk about it again.

Carmichael added that teething problems from post-Brexit trading “seem to continue today”.

Elsewhere in the debate the MP warned of a “total absence of any Government strategy” on fisheries policy.

The Liberal Democrat also criticised those who “did not know the difference between a codpiece and a cod end” in the run-up to Brexit fishing negotiations last year.

Prentis encouraged Carmichael to wait for a joint fisheries statement which is due to arrive “very early in the new year”.

“I am working on a draft at the moment, and in that will be the plan and a list of potential fisheries management plans,” she said.

During the debate Carmichael highlighted problems with post-Brexit trading conditions, compensation for lost exports and challenges in hiring deckhands.

“The Trade and Cooperation Agreement did not deliver what was promised,” he added.

“Despite the protestations of the prime minister, come 2026 it is very difficult to see how that will change.”