April 27, 2021
Scottish salmon farmers express concerns over UK government's export statistics
Scotland's salmon farmers have called for urgent action on April 22 to address discrepancies in export statistics published by the UK government.
Released by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for January, the figures stated that just 86 tonnes of Scottish salmon had been exported to Europe. Official EU Eurostat import figures put the figure at 4,500 tonnes, while Scottish salmon producers said they exported close to 5,000 tonnes of fish in January 2021.
The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) said there is an urgent need for irregularities in post-Brexit HMRC export figures to be addressed in order for the full impact of Brexit to be known.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on April 22, Hamish Macdonell, SSPO's director of strategic engagement, said there was a real issue over the validity of the export statistics that had been put out by the government.
Speaking outside the committee, he said: "Scotland's salmon producers sent about 5,000 tonnes of salmon to Europe in January. The Eurostat system which records how much Scottish salmon went into the EU, records about 4,500 tonnes arriving there.
"Yet, according to the official HMRC figures published on behalf of the UK government, we only exported 80 tonnes, which is only about 3% of the amount that actually went there.
"There has been a big problem, at the very least in January in terms of the collation of the figures. Something happened to do with the way the figures were collected, and we don't know who is to blame or where the problem has come from. But unless we can get a really proper baseline of how much fish is actually going into Europe, it is impossible to tell what the impact of Brexit is."
Responding to the issue highlighted by the SSPO, the Under Secretary of State for Scotland, David Duguid, assured the committee that "There is an investigation ongoing and the HMRC are looking into where that discrepancy has come from."
The SSPO flagged the discrepancy with HMRC as soon as the figures were released in March, but a solution to the inaccuracy with such a key export commodity has yet to be found. Farmed Scottish salmon remains the UK's number one food export.
February's export figures were more in line with expectations but the sector is looking for reassurance that the system and workflows for recording and reporting exports is now functioning properly.
- The Fish Site