Galloway’s creel fishermen could be sunk if export logjams are not fixed fast, according to an industry leader.

Locally-caught prawns, crabs and lobsters are usually shipped live to Europe for sale at French markets.

But post-Brexit trade chaos has torpedoed previously problem-free shipments of the high-value shellfish.

Now the Galloway Static Gear Inshore Fishermen’s Association has warned that livelihoods are on the line.

Chairman Frazer Scott told the News: “I took the boat out of the water last week because of what was going on.

“There’s no point fishing if you can’t sell your catch. Everything has stopped dead.

“Unless we get access to European markets our fishery is finished. It’s essential that we get a clear run for exports to continue or we’ll die.”

The last time Mr Scott sold any lobsters to his buyer in Troon was January 8.

“He still has most of them in his tank,” he said. “He told me nothing was moving and everything is stuck.

“The lobsters are sold on to Angel Bond wholesalers in Glasgow for delivery to France.

“All the buyers are going to say we will take all your stuff but if we don’t sell it you don’t get paid.

“My fear is that if our European customers can’t access Scottish lobsters and prawns they will go elsewhere. Canadian lobsters are ten-a-penny.”

He added: “All of us in the association are in the same boat. We are unable to fish for anything or sell anything.”

Mr Scott has contacted local Conservative politicians Finlay Carson and Alister Jack on the issue.

He said: “We need to get the export markets up and running again for the Galloway fishermen.

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson.
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson.

“We rely on the export market and this is just wrong. We are in a predicament through no fault of our own.

“And the government in Westminster should have sorted out access to European markets ages ago.”

Mr Carson, the Conservatives’ rural affairs spokesman at Holyrood, urging everyone to pull together and resolve the problems quickly.

He said: “Now is not the time to be dragged into a blame game, that is only going to further delay matters.

“Everybody needs to come together – the fishermen, the fish processing industry and politicians to smooth out these initial problems and get them resolved in order not to harm the Scottish brand.

“It makes sense to tackle these issues quickly and ensure our world leading fish and shellfish can once again get to overseas markets who are desperate for our products.”

Mr Carson is hoping to discuss the matter with senior management at scallop processors West Coast Sea Products at Kirkcudbright.

He added: “From what I can gather there appears to have been issues over Scottish companies having to register for VAT in France.

“I know the local MP Alister Jack is assisting in trying to resolve any problems.”

Scottish rural economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “It is scandalous how Scotland’s seafood sector has been treated since the end of the EU exit transition period.

“Previously booming businesses have been left to rot as a result of extensive bureaucracy forced on them by a poor Brexit deal.

“World class food is being unnecessarily wasted. Family businesses are failing.

“It is imperative that the UK Government acts, and acts now, to provide adequate support to these businesses.”

The UK Government announced £23 million fund to help seafood exporters this week but it is unclear whether the Galloway fishermen will qualify.

South if Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “What we need now is for the UK and Scottish Governments to step up to the mark and find real solutions to this mess.”