U.K. Offers Payments to Fishermen Hit by Brexit Trade Obstacles


U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said fishermen hit by Brexit trade disruption will receive payments from the government after new paperwork snarled up fish exports to the European Union.

“We’ll make sure they get help,” Johnson told reporters on Monday as he announced a 23 million-pound ($31 million) compensation fund for the fishing industry. The money is to help businesses which have been held up by “bureaucratic delays” through no fault of their own, Johnson said.

The concession to fishermen comes as the industry -- which largely supported Brexit -- has struggled with new customs processes and formalities to sell their catch into the EU, their biggest export market. Lorries carrying fish were driven around Westminster in protest on Monday, and last week the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said there is “great anger” toward Johnson over his Brexit trade agreement with the EU.

“Many in the seafood supply chain fear they will not survive,” said Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive officer of the lobby group. “Your deal has failed the industry in the short-term.”

Fishermen now need documents such as export health certificates and catch certificates to send their produce to the EU, and there has been a shortage of veterinary professionals to issue the documents, causing delays. Boats have been tied up in harbors due to a steep reduction in EU demand.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink, said compensation would only buy the industry a little time, and called for customs checks on fish exports to the EU to be suspended.

“We need time to get systems properly built up as they keep falling down,” Withers said in a statement. “All our warnings that systems weren’t ready have sadly proved true.”

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