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Scottish fishermen land fish in Denmark to avoid post-Brexit red tape

Tim Barsoe
·2-min read

By Tim Barsoe

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Scottish fishermen have increasingly turned to fish auctions in Denmark in the first two weeks of the year to avoid having their deliveries to the European Union blocked by post-Brexit red tape.

A fish auction in Hanstholm on Denmark's west coast has so far this year sold 525 tonnes of fish from Scottish fishing vessels, more than double compared to the same period last year.

"We've had an awful lot of inquiries from Scottish fishermen about landing their catch in Hanstholm," Jesper Kongsted, who heads the auction, told Reuters on Friday. "This is very good for our business."

Some Scottish fishing companies say they face ruin, as several EU countries rejected UK exports after new customs demands delayed the arrival of their fresh produce.

As a result, prices at fish auctions in Scotland plummeted at the beginning of the year. Kongsted said two Scottish brothers had earned an extra 300,000 Danish crowns ($48,788) by selling 22 tonnes of hake in Hanstholm rather than at an auction in Peterhead in Scotland.

"Our industry is facing mounting financial losses. Many fishing vessels are tied to the quay wall," Elspeth Macdonald, head of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

"Some are now making a 72-hour round trip to land fish in Denmark, as the only way to guarantee that their catch will make a fair price and actually find its way to market while still fresh enough to meet customer demands," Macdonald said.

The introduction of health certificates, customs declarations and checks since Britain left the EU's single market at the start of this year have hit delivery systems at some fishing companies.

This week, some Scottish fishermen threatened to dump rotten shellfish outside the British parliament in London.

($1 = 6.1490 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Tim Barsoe; editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, William Maclean)