Thursday, 21 February 2019

Third Country Fishing in a No Deal


Exporting and importing fish if there’s a ‘No deal’ Brexit – The amount of paperwork (or rather online forms) that will be necessary for fishermen has been outlined.

The government this week published guidance to UK fishermen and fish merchants on the hoops they will have to jump through to export and import wild-caught marine fish if the UK wakes up without a deal on the 29th March.

This is because, if no deal is agreed, the UK will become a ‘third country’ in EU terms, that is one with no international agreement with the union.

MPs voted against no deal in an amendment to the withdrawal agreement, but this is not a sure promise and it is unlikely that Theresa May will get support for her deal without altering the controversial backstop, which requires European agreement.

Fishing under a ‘No Deal’

Approx 80% of the fish we catch is exported, about 70% of the fish we eat is imported.

Fish for export will have to have a veterinary check and several certificates that are not necessary now, and they will have to enter the EU at a port with an inspection post, which not all have.

The EU’s regulation states that only fish products accompanied by a validated catch certificate can enter the EU.

Currently, as a Member State, the UK does not have to issue catch certificates for EU trade but this will change if we leave with no deal in place.

To get a catch certificate, which shows the fish was caught legally, fishermen will have to follow several steps, including the completing of an online catch certificate form for each consignment of fish and having this validated by the UK fisheries authority.

Catch certificates aren’t needed to export farmed fish and farmed shellfish, freshwater fish or freshwater shellfish, fish fry or larvae and some molluscs.

The guidance confirmed that to move fish or fishery products from the UK to the EU under No Deal, businesses will also need an Export Health Certificate (EHC) signed by an Official Vet or an Environmental Health Officer.

Because the UK will become a third country, fishermen will also have to send any consignments of UK-caught fish and fishery products to the EU via a border inspection post (BIP).

Plymouth and Roscoff will both need upgrading to meet the required standard and volume of work.

The current situation with other third country fish and exports to and from third countries remains the same.

Exporters may also need any of the following that the EU uses to monitor fishing activity and prevent illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing:
a prior notification form
a pre-landing declaration
a storage document
a processing statement

These documents will be available before the end of March on the government website.

The process for importing fish from the EU will be a similar process, but reversed.

Redruth MP George Eustice as Fishing Minister say of course that leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority and publishing guidance to the industry doesn’t mean that policy has changed.

A Defra spokesperson told us this week

“We remain focused on securing an agreement with the EU – but we must prepare for all possible outcomes.

“In the event that the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without an implementation period, catch certificates will need to be used to trade fish and fish products with the EU. Exporters therefore need time to become familiar with the new requirements and the impacts on their business.

The guidance published is designed to help businesses understand what they need to do to prepare for a no deal scenario. Further information about the process for completing these documents will be available in the coming weeks.”

Defra also said that The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is working with industry to make sure there are extra trained and authorised signatories to help manage additional EHC applications. A new EHC form finder tool on GOV.UK will enable businesses to download the forms and guidance that they need.

Where will these fish landed at Newlyn go?


Luke Pollard is the chair of Labour Friends of Fishing parliamentary Group and MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. He told Cornish Stuff:

“We know that exporting under a no deal scenario is going to be difficult and complicated. It not only requires customs and border checks, additional forms to be filled in and so on, but it also requires the government to have the systems in place for any exporters and businesses to access that in a simple and easy manner and at the moment I have serious doubts as to whether the systems are in place and it will be as easy as ministers suggest it will be.”

“We have got some of the way there but not enough to make the system work. I can’t see how that can happen before March. There’s been no planning applications submitted for customs facilities in Plymouth. There’s been no extra customs staff or environmental health staff hired, so I don’t see how you could have those systems in place being as it is just over some forty days away now.

“So this is where for me it is a complete myth that the country is ready to leave with no deal. The false threat of leaving with no deal doesn’t work, the EU know that it would cause considerable economic damage to our economy, we know it would have disastrous consequences for our key industries, so it seems to be a complete false threat”

“But what worries me about this government is that knowing the huge economic damage that this could cause, they are still ploughing ahead with this being an available option. That’s why Labour have been calling for no-deal to be taken off the table”

Mr Pollard continued, “Article 50 needs to be extended if we are going to have the time for a creation of a deal that parliament can get behind but also time for British businesses to adapt to whatever new system we are having after we leave the European Union”

“It is complete pie-in-the-sky to believe that British businesses can have a robust system in place by 29th March simply because the government has no plans whatsoever of having the robust systems in place that we need to make a no-deal work”

“In the Westcountry, fish exports and agricultural exports are really important to our economy. We export 80% of what we catch and we import 70% of what we eat. That means we need to have frictionless trade at the border. Everyday that no deal remains on the table is one more day where investment is put off and one more day when businesses are wondering what’s going to happen after the 29th. It’s really worrying“

Colin Martin is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate MP for South East Cornwall, the seat of Sheryll Murray, the unofficial fishing champion of the Tory backbenches. Murray’s security of a 17,000 majority in the seat is largely thought to be due for her support for the industry and her uncompromising promotion of a hard Brexit. She is currently supporting the ‘Malthouse Compromise’ in Parliament.

Cllr Martin said “A huge proportion of the fish landed in Cornwall is put straight on a truck to France or Spain, or even on a plane to Japan”

“For years, Sheryll Murray has been telling fishing communities in South East Cornwall that the Common Fisheries Policy was to blame for all our problems and that leaving the EU would be the solution.”

Cllr Colin Martin, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for South East Cornwall
Mr Martin said: “Unfortunately just like every other part of Brexit, the Government simply hasn’t made adequate plans for a no-deal scenario. Whilst it may be the case that a no-deal Brexit would get us out of the CFP, we’d be left with the problem of who would eat all the fish we catch.”

EU Exit: road haulage

Fish loaded and ready to leave Newlyn
Another problem associated with the industry is the uncertainty over haulage licences. It’s one thing catching the fish and going through the hoops to export them but you also need to get them from market to market, and off this island.

Hauliers are currently waiting with baited breath to find out if they have won a precious licence to carry on trading as they are now.

The minister responsible, Jesse Norman MP gave a written statement to parliament this week. It said,

“The government is making preparations to allow hauliers and other businesses to continue to transport goods between the UK and the EU, once the UK has left the EU. These include preparations for leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

The European Commission has proposed legislation that would allow UK hauliers basic rights to conduct operations to, from and through the EU for a limited period of 9 months after exit, if there is no deal. This proposal is predicated on the UK’s granting equivalent access for EU hauliers to the UK.”

“A multilateral quota of transport licences was introduced by the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) in 1974 to support liberalised road freight transport between member states of that body. The licences, known as ECMT permits, allow for access between the 43 member states (which include all EU member states except Cyprus). The UK has an allocation of 984 annual and 2,832 short-term (valid for 30 days) ECMT permits for 2019.

These levels were agreed through a long-standing formula approach before it was known that the UK would be leaving the EU.

The government’s expectation is that hauliers should not need an ECMT permit to continue doing a range of business in all or much of the EU, even in the event of no deal.”

UK hauliers have been applying for ECMT permits and the government expects to inform applicants of the outcome of their applications later this week.

“Overall, we continue to believe that reciprocal market access will be secured for UK hauliers. While continuing to plan for all eventualities, we also believe that it is right to underline the fact that the UK is taking a positive and pragmatic approach.”

by Kira Taylor, Cornish Stuff Reporter

Full story courtesy of Cornish Stuff - a new look at what is happening in and around Cornwall.