Langoustine firm fears business will fold over Brexit customs delays

For someone like Jame McMillan, who has fished for langoustines all his life off the west coast of Scotland, and witnessed a spike in global demand for his products, the disruption to Scottish seafood exports is nothing short of catastrophic.

Jamie McMillan warned the delays could put him out of business. Picture: Jamie McMillan
Jamie McMillan warned the delays could put him out of business. Picture: Jamie McMillan

Mr McMillan, who runs Loch Fyne Langoustines and Sea Farms, the price of Brexit is all too clear this week. In fact, he warns it could put him out of business altogether.

At Tarbert harbour yesterday, Mr McMillan was surveying the bounty of fresh produce that had been brought in from sea: large lobsters and hand dived scallops, as well as brown crab and razor clams. Such high-end produce, however, looks unlikely to find a buyer any time soon.

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The ongoing customs delays – coupled with IT problems in France which has seen some consignments diverted from Boulogne sur Mer to Dunkirk - mean his company is unable to get its seafood to its European customers, and with the British hospitality industry effectively mothballed due to continuing coronavirus restrictions, there are few other options.

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In a video posted to Twitter yesterday, Mr McMillan did not hold back on the impact of the delays on his business. “It’s an absolute disaster of a situation in the first week of January,” he bemoaned.

“This morning we’ve been advised to stop exporting to the EU until the problems at the transportation hubs are solved and at the French customs side as well.

“Everything we’ve shipped this week, we’ve lost. They’re still sitting at customs in France. We’re going to have to tell our boats to stop fishing. We just can’t export any more to the EU this week until this problem is solved.”

For all that it was presented as a golden opportunity for fishermen, Mr McMillan believes he has yet to see a single benefit of Brexit.

"The fishermen, the processors, we’ve all been through a nightmare with coronavirus restrictions, and we’ve lost the restaurant trade in the UK. So the gift of of Brexit keeps giving.

“It’s probably going to put me out of business, because I’ve got to pay the fishermen for the stock I’ve bought this week and which we couldn’t sell,” he added.

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