James Wild MP defends King's Lynn shellfish industry after EU import ban
Yesterday the European Commission banned the import of unpurified bivalve shellfish which will have a severe impact on the industry.
Shellfish such as mussels and cockles from 'Class B' waters, will no longer be permitted to be imported live.
'Class A' waters, such as those in Scotland, will be permitted to export bivalve molluscs to the EU as their product is considered purified.
James Wild Mp spoke out in parliament saying: "This arbitrary action by the European Commission is causing real concern in fishing communities who have already suffered losses from export disruption and I urge the Secretary of State to confirm details of the compensation scheme.
While I support strongly the efforts to have this ban lifted but will he also put in place contingency plans now to support fishing firms in King’s Lynn and elsewhere with grants for purification facilities?”
Abbi Williamson, of Lynn Shellfish, who have had their business severely affected by export delays last month said: "Our product is frozen at the moment, so this doesn't affect us, however it will directly impact our sister company in
Wales and we would need to fund purification facilities if the ban goes ahead."
In response George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs said:
“As well as looking to unblock this problem with the Commission, to resume this trade which is obviously our first and most important objective. We are considering other options and interventions we might make to help the industry adapt should the EU permanently change its position.”
George wrote to Ms Stella Kyriakides EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, he said:"The letter addressed imports
into the EU from Great Britain of live, bivalve molluscs for depuration from watersclassified as ‘Class B’. It set out the view that this trade is not permitted.
This trade, which goes both ways, has been in place for many years. This development is
therefore of grave concern to the UK and businesses that rely on this trade.
We accept that there is a distinction between molluscs which are already fit for human
consumption and those that require purification beforehand. The point is that the animals
in question are alive, destined for further treatment. The parallel might be with livestock as
they leave the farm gate.
The UK’s high status for shellfish health is one of the reasons that EU businesses turn to
our farms. We implement and enforce high standards and have excellent traceability
systems in place.
We are surprised that the Commission has changed its position, and in our view this is
inconsistent with earlier statements provides to us by Commission Services.The Commission Services advised that there
was no need to provide supplementary documentation to assist with traceability to the
waters of origin and we advised our industry accordingly, stating that the trade could
continue. This is therefore unexpected and difficult news for an industry that relies on trade
between the UK and EU."
Last month the government announced a £23 million scheme to support fishermen and seafood exporters who experienced delays following new requirements for exporting.
This fund reflects the unique circumstances of the fishing sector, which has had the most significant new requirements to adjust to, and for whom even a short delay can lead to goods perishing.