The shellfish industry has criticised a plan by George Eustice to build LBM depuration sites in the UK

The shellfish industry has criticised plans by George Eustice to build LBM depuration sites in the UK

A plan for building live bivalve mollusc purification (LBM) sites in the UK floated by Secretary for State, George Eustice has hit the rocks before the idea has taken to the water.

Mr Eustice announced the plan for depuration sites as a solution to the European Union’s ban on the import of live bivalve molluscs (LBMs) from the United Kingdom post-Brexit. The EU stopped the import of LBMs from Category B waters, as the UK is now classified as a third country.

Since January, Mr Eustice had claimed that the UK Government had an agreement with the EU for the continued exportation of LBM from Category B waters around Britain, but a letter last week showed that Mr Eustice new of the ban as far back as mid-December 2020. Mr Eustice had also claimed that UK businesses would be able to continue sending live LBM’s to the EU market in April, but the EU has told the UK that this was never on the cards and the ban is in fact permanent.

UK shellfish businesses involved in the export of LBM’s have suffered severe financial loses with some traditional exporters having to shut their doors and the current situation is threatening to push many in the industry to financial ruin.

Eustice has now said that the Government will use part of it £100 million fisheries fund to help businesses impacted by the ban on LBMs, to build their own depuration plants before the next trading season at the end of the year.

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This news will be too late for many and the plans have been heavily criticised by some in the industry who say that the Secretary’s proposal doesn’t work as depuration shortens the lifespan of some LBMs and that is why it has to be done closer to the source of sale.

Dorset Fish Company said “It won’t work for Clams, Mussels, cockles, they have a short shelf life after depuration they will not last the two-day trip to French customers, then another day or two to their final destination/restaurant. That’s four days maybe more after depuration they will be weak/dead!!

“We’ve sent some clams & cockles after purification for 42 hour we’ve experienced 30% mortality and it’s winter, what’s going to happen in the summer? What do we do… do we take large bank loans to invest in technology to make them purify better?

Robin Turner, who is a consultant for fish sales in the UK and Europe said, “Won’t work for cockles and clams, okay for oysters and mussels but all still can’t be exported in bulk! All have to be packaged, labelled etc.”

by Oliver McBride

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Plans for British based LBM purification sites met with criticism

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