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Seafood Jobs in Jeopardy

Seafood Jobs in Jeopardy as local authority export charges increase according to an article on BBC Scotland.

Scottish seafood producers are facing a huge rise in the cost of exporting their produce as a result of charges imposed by local authorities.

Loch Fyne Oysters in Cairndow, near Inveraray has seen its bill for council health certificates soar in price over the last two years.

Every consignment of food and drink exported to countries outside the EU requires a health certificate and the cost for a normal consignment has risen from £17 in the last financial year to £91 this year.

As a result Loch Fyne Oysters is facing a bill of £125,000 this year, more than 30 times more than it had to pay just two years ago.

Argyll and Bute Council told BBC Scotland it had increased its charges in the face of budget cuts.

But the Clyde Fishermen’s Association warned the massive hike in fees could ultimately cost jobs.

Cameron Brown, managing director of Loch Fyne Oysters, told BBC Scotland: “We have four tonnes of smoked salmon going out this week to Turkey.

“The value of it is £75,000. The health certificate for that costs £91.

“But if we put out a single box of oysters – and we do many of these a year, to various customers around the world – the cost is still £91.

“A box containing 100 oysters, weighing just seven kilos, has a sales value of £65.

“It needs a health certificate costing £91. That makes it unviable for our customers. It’s very unfair”

Elaine Whyte, from the Clyde Fisherman’s Association, said fees varied so much across Scotland, it was time for action to create a level playing field.

She said: “In the Argyll and Bute region, the cost for these certificates has risen sharply, and it’s a massive ongoing burden for any company – particularly those in remote and rural areas – which already faces barriers to getting fresh produce to market.

“These are important employers and there are jobs at stake. So it’s untenable.

“There are different levels of charges depending on which local authority you’re in.”

Ms Whyte said Scotland needed an online system with a flat level price across the country.

She added: “That would be sensible because without that online system you can’t get the certificates when you need them. ”

The industry body, Scotland Food and Drink, warned BBC Scotland that the rising charges could damage a billion pound industry already facing problems because of Brexit.