Dartmouth shellfish businessman organises London demonstration over Brexit delays

Sales manager of Dartmouth Crab Company, Mark Moore, organised a demonstration in London this week to "raise awareness" of the delays and bureaucracy faced by seafood exporters. 

Dartmouth Crab Company lorries in London - credit Lee Elliot

Mark said that the demonstration was "triggered" by Prime Minister Boris Johnson implying delays at the border faced by seafood exporters were their own fault, saying they had "filled out the wrong forms". 

"That is what really triggered it", Mark explained, "We're not stupid people, we were ready, we were prepared, but we were still getting updates at twenty to midnight on New Years Eve."

We're not stupid people, we were ready, we were prepared, but we were still getting updates at twenty to midnight on New Years Eve

Mark said that the demonstration was not a "protest" but about "raising awareness" that his industry faces due to the "bureaucracy" faced in light of Brexit. "We're not against Brexit. Its not political." he said.

"We're not against having to do extra paperwork but the system is unworkable. Especially with perishable goods like seafood, we need a time-frame that is workable."

Dartmouth Crab Company lorries head towards Whitehall as other seafood company vehicles return - credit Lee Elliot

He said one advantage of the pandemic was that he was able to organise meetings with MPs and other high ranking officials reasonably quickly because they were able to be completed online. "We've taken them to task" he said, "We have had a lot of discussions behind the scenes. We're not expecting a retraction from the Government [following Johnson's remarks about the wrong forms] but where they hadn't fully explored the issues, they are doing that now."

The Government has offered companies a share of a £23m compensation fund, but Mark said that isn't helpful unless they're going to get a pay out every six months. 

He explained: "They offered us money but its no good; they're not going to give us a lump sum every six months and subsidise the industry, we just need them to fix the problems."

They offered us money but its no good; they're not going to give us a lump sum every six months and subsidise the industry, we just need them to fix the problems

He said he was having to work 18-20 hour days to get everything that they need and this was during a "quiet time" but he will start getting busy again between April and Christmas. "I can't keep working 18 hour days until I retire, it needs sorting."

Asked whether he had confidence that the situation would be fixed before his busy period starts in April, Mark said he thinks there will be a change in a month. "We're making headway" he said. 

"Its not just us in Britain affected by this, a French firm I spoke to hasn't been able to sell a single product in the UK this year."

He is not the only one growing frustrated with the new rules and regulations surrounding Brexit, especially in the fishing and seafood industries, one of the main areas that was promised "sunlit uplands" when we left the EU. 

In fact, Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael wrote in the Independent this week that when it came to fishing, "the Prime Minister’s boast of an increased share quickly fell flat" and he had "somehow delivered a cut on those in our fishing industry had been previously allowed to catch", creating a "deal worse than the hated Common Fisheries Policy". 

he somehow created a deal worse than the hated Common Fisheries Policy

In a fishing and seafood stronghold as the South Hams is, we hope these situations are resolved as quickly as possible and smooth and tariff-free trade with the EU can resume, but we might not hold our breath. 

- Sam Acourt, Editor

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