Gloucester eel exporter faces closure due to Brexit trade challenges

A Gloucester company which has been catching and distributing elver eels from the River Severn since the 1970s faces closure, if it fails to meet requirements introduced through Brexit.

Glass Eels, a Gloucester-based company which has been catching and distributing glass ‘elver’ eels from the River Severn since the early 1970s, may be forced to close if it fails to meet requirements introduced through Brexit – the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

The company, which currently exports to countries including Germany, Sweden and Lithuania – without the need for checks or restrictions – will now have to meet the requirements which exist for non-EU members, and prove their practices are non-detrimental to endangered species.

Glass Eels will also no longer be permitted to fly their lucrative catch out of Gloucestershire Airport, as it is not a registered Animal Border Inspection Post.

‘This will mean flying them probably to Manchester and will cause major issues if we are able to export, as it will mean too much handling of the glass eels and the risk of them getting warm on runways, having delayed take off times and ultimately dying. Each delivery on the aircraft is worth £200,000 to £300,000. These are live fish, which are on the endangered species list, so if they die, we lose the shipment and the money,’ Glass Eels office manager, Victoria Hale, said.

Matt Griffith, director of policy at Business West, the not-for-profit business leadership company which has been supporting Glass Eels, added: ‘Companies are facing a huge amount of change due to new rules and regulations introduced because of Brexit as well as the added pressure of the pandemic affecting supply chains.

‘We are doing everything we can to support companies like Glass Eels. While the issue of restricting eel fishing is not dependent on a deal or no deal Brexit, it’s important that attention is drawn to issues like this so businesses have a voice during the negotiations.’

While Victoria Hale also further added: ‘The Environment Agency used a lot of data which isn’t current, and which is based on a river in Canada where they catch 100 per cent of the fish in their river. The fisherman on the River Severn do not catch anywhere near this amount.

‘We’ve had to produce our own paper which has been peer reviewed and published. Now we just have to wait for our fate to be decided as to whether we can export to the EU or not… Brexit might mean the end of our business.’

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© SoGlos
Wednesday 25 November 2020

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