HM Insights

Highland Council warning to fishermen operating a fishing vessel

As we fast approach the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020), the Highland Council ("HC") have issued an urgent warning to fishermen operating a fishing vessel with a HC area 'home port' (which includes the likes of Scrabster and Wick for example).  The HC warning states that all fishing vessels where the catch is exported (either directly or indirectly) to any EU Member State must first be registered as a food business with the HC.

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In addition, and to enable exportation to EU Member States, each fishing vessel will need to be inspected by the HC before the transition period ends.  Fishermen are thus being urged to contact the HC for registration, and to make arrangements for such inspections to take place as soon as possible, with the HC stating;   

"It is the responsibility of the fishing vessel food business operator or their representative to register with us. Failure to do so may result in your catch being unable to be exported to EU Member States at the end of the transition period."

Accordingly, it has been made very clear that the onus for complying with this legal requirement to register ahead of the transition period lies solely with fishermen.

Possible exemption

If your catch is intended either solely for your own consumption, or it does not exceed 25 kilograms and is for direct sale from the quayside, the HC have confirmed that you will be exempt from the legal requirement of registration.

Going forward

So as to avoid being commercially disadvantaged, it is crucially important that fishermen take steps to register their vessel before the transition period.  As of September this year, only a reported 17% of the 400 vessels in the HC region had registered.  The online registration form is limited to one fishing vessel per submission (with a new application needed per fishing vessel).

If we at Harper Macleod can assist you with this process or with any other queries you may have around changes which will come into force as a result of Brexit, please let us know.

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