The future of Welsh cockle gatherers is at risk as a result of Conservative Government inaction in securing access for them to export to the EU following Brexit, according to Llanelli’s MP and MS, Nia Griffith and Lee Waters.
It has now emerged that UK Government Ministers, who previously said that the EU ban on importing non-depurated UK shellfish was temporary and could be easily be resolved by April, had known that the ban was in fact indefinite.
The ban currently prevents shellfish caught in the UK being sold in the EU unless it has gone through a process of mechanical purification first. With only a limited capacity currently available for this to be done and no plan by the UK Government to either expand the infrastructure or to renegotiate its position, many local cocklers’ and shellfish companies are suffering as a result.
Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, who raised the issue directly with the Secretary of State for Wales in Parliament on Wednesday said:
“Cockle gathering in both North and South Wales is not just a job, but a way of life dating back generations. Gatherers who were already alarmed at the advice that they could not resume the export of shellfish until April, now feel not just forgotten but utterly betrayed to discover that UK Ministers knew all along that the EU ban on importing non-depurated UK shellfish would be indefinite.”
The UK Government really needs to take urgent action to help our cockle gatherers keep their vital export market and save this traditional industry from disappearing forever.”
Llanelli MS, Lee Waters, added:
“We are now beginning to see the differences between the promises made over Brexit and the reality.”
“Fishermen were told if we left the EU Single Market they would benefit but as we can now see they will be worse off. Just as hauliers travelling to Northern Ireland were promised there’d be no paperwork and are facing the reality of costly delays, and just as we were promised Wales would get a replacement set of structural funds and would not be worse off. The Conservatives need to answer for their failure to deliver on their promises.”