Migrant situation demands action

Lochhead calls food firms to Summit on Calais crisis

Richard LochheadThe Scottish Government will today convene a meeting between food processors and transporters to identify alternative routes to market following the continuing disruption at Calais faced by Scottish seafood exporters.

Key representatives from the seafood, fishing and transport sectors have been invited to discuss options – such as alternative export routes or modes of transport – with Scottish Government officials, including Transport Scotland.

Scotland exported £461 million of seafood to Europe last year but Scottish firms have raised concerns about financial losses and cancelled orders as a result of delays at the Channel Tunnel. Lorries which have been parked on theM20 for days finally began making the Crossing on Saturday evening after restrictions were lifted, but Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the crisis is not over.

Today’s summit comes after the First Minister and Fisheries Secretary pressed the UK Government to prioritise fresh produce being exported to the continent.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead (pictured), said: “With fish commodities accounting for almost two thirds of all Scotland food export products – compared with just 12% for the UK as a whole – Scottish seafood producers are being disproportionately affected by the on-going Channel Tunnel disruption.

“The situation in Calais is clearly complex and requires a multi-agency response involving both UK and French authorities – and the Scottish Government continues to urge the UK to play its part in a co-ordinated and comprehensive EU plan of action to deal with the migrant crisis.

“We also need action to address the immediate issue around getting vehicles and exports moving again.

“The Scottish Government has been working hard to investigate what practical support we might be able to offer, such as helping to identify alternative routes or modes of transport. But it is vital that any prospective solutions work for industry which is why we have convened today’s meeting to explore options to put to the wider seafood processing sector.

Scottish Ministers will continue to press the UK Government to bring about a swift resolution to this on-going situation.

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