DEFRA Secretary George Eustice accused the EU of changing its position on post Brexit-rule for exports like mussels and cockles. He claimed that the EU ban on live shellfish from the UK is “legally wrong” and “unjustified”.
It later emerged that DEFRA had privately contradicted this when speaking to the industry. The Shellfish Association of Great Britain, which represents the majority of shellfish traders in the UK, yesterday wrote to members saying that, in private, the government had said that the EU's position "is correct".
A DEFRA spokesperson denied this. They said the government's position had not changed. "We continue to believe that our interpretation of the law and the EU’s original interpretation is correct and that the trade should be able to continue for all relevant molluscs from April.”
"And there is no reason for a gap at all for molluscs from aquaculture."
A DEFRA research paper circulated in December 2020 warned separately that “exports of wild harvested live bivalve molluscs (LBM) from Cat B waters for depuration in the EU will be prohibited, as there is no EHC suitable for them.”
George Eustice’s statement on the export of shellfish and molluscs was hard to square with the statement about government guidance made by the Shellfish Association of Great Britain.
We contacted George Eustice’s office but we received no response.