Douglas Ross calls on UK Government to create 'Fishing Task Force'

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has called for the creation of a UK ‘Fishing Taskforce’ to tackle the problems faced by the industry in the aftermath of Brexit coming into effect.

Douglas Ross has called for UK Fishing Taskforce to be created

The Moray MP has written to UK environment secretary George Eustace seeking action to simplify the post-Brexit system of trade with the EU after massive losses faced by the fishing industry over increased checks and bureaucracy.

Mr Ross states the £23 million fund unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month to compensate the industry can only be a "sticking plaster", in an article for The Scotsman today.

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Major demonstrations have been held by fish exporters at UK Government buildings in Whitehall amid growing concerns that livelihoods are under threat over the situation.

The Tory leader says he has been pushing the Scottish and UK governments to deliver find a "resolution" to the problems faced by the industry.

"I welcomed the £23m compensation scheme announced by the UK Government, to cover the losses faced by our fisheries during the worst of the delays at the start of January," he writes.

"However, I also recognise that this compensation can only be a sticking plaster unless we can fix the fundamental issues of the delays themselves. While I have heard some encouraging news that certain problems are being smoothed over, there are still many more that are outstanding.

"That is why I have written to the environment secretary to call for the creation of a UK taskforce, to work with and apply pressure on the EU to simplify the system.

"Clearly, the system was designed off of a deal that was agreed just a week before the end of the transition period and has been found wanting when applied in practice.

"Given that the EU is going to have to use this process themselves, it is in their interests for it to be made to work. The creation of a cross-government taskforce would give reassurance to the industry that work on resolving the delays is being given the urgency it deserves."

A last-ditch free trade deal was struck with the EU just days before Brexit came into effect at the start of this year, but there has been an increase in checks and bureaucracy on goods travelling to and from the continent. It has resulted in major freight hold-ups at ports.

Fishing firms, in particular, have complained the extra paperwork has made it difficult to deliver fresh produce to the EU before it goes off, hammering their businesses.

Mr Ross also says he wants to see an agreement reached with the EU around the need for catch certificates and to remove" excessive paperwork" around live produce.

"This will allow the sector to return to the model of being able to get produce to European markets the day after it has been caught, that is essential for it to be viable," he adds.

"Other countries outside of the EU, are able to sell fresh seafood to European markets, so this system clearly can be made to work."

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