Brexit: Cornwall shellfish merchant criticises government
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Martin Laity, a shellfish fisherman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that from “day one” his shellfish company was losing all of its turnover due to new post-Brexit fishing rules. It comes as an EU ban on the import of live mussels, oysters, clams and cockles plucked out of UK waters has decimated the shellfish industry in the UK. Mr Laity explained how fishermen are forced to put their catch in a purification tank for 48-hours in order to ship them abroad – but 9/10 mussels do not survive the journey this way. He went on to call out Boris Johnson and the Government for their “insulting” attitude as ministers turn their heads the other way on the issue.
Martin Laity explained: “Mussels would not survive purification and the transit.
“If I exported that to France now – 90 percent of that would be dead on arrival.”
He slammed: “From day one, 100 percent of our turnover was lost.
“It is insulting when ministers stand up and say ‘it’s just teething trouble’ which we have heard now for a long time.”
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Asked why the industry cannot export to other markets, Mr Laity replied: “When you look at the data what they import shellfish is very small volumes.
“And also you have got to look at the sustainability angle.
“Our oyster boats work with sail power and when you are told to sell your stuff 9,000 miles around the world…
“It kind of goes against the grain of what you are trying to achieve.”
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He added: “For me, it is not just a company the entire reason we have a tourist industry (in Cornwall) is because people get the ambiance of what is happening.
“Busy people working hard in a port, it attracts people from around the world to see that.
“They want to see character and our industry is character.”
Reporter Simon Jack explained: “Getting mussels to Brussels is proving nigh-on impossible and unless things change fisherman like Martin will struggle.”
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The BBC reporter explained that due to a string of factors such as the UK demand for shellfish being “tiny” on top of post-pandemic recovery and post-Brexit recovery, areas such as Cornwall will struggle.
He said: “Cornwall like the rest of UK is politically, economically, environmentally and technology in a different world.
“That world will require new investment, new industries and new skills.
“If Cornwall and Britain are to succeed.”
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