THE REPUTATION of the UK's fishing exports is being lost "day by day", according to a Scottish seafood leader.

Donna Fordyce, the Chief Executive of Seafood Scotland, told MPs this afternoon that the length of time it is taking to get produce to market after being caught in the UK was not only reducing the price for the catch, but destroying the country's seafood reputation.

She explained to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: "We were so integrated within the supply chains within Europe to try and unpick that...The impact, even though companies were prepared as much as they can be...there are just too many systems, too many things that you're up against.

"You're buying fish on the market that morning, processing it, collecting it at lunchtime, getting it away down to the hubs or direct to the marketplace for the next morning.

"The new system just doesn't allow that and we cannot guarantee day one for day two so the reputational risk of the UK is getting lost day by day and we need to rebuild that".

Ms Fordyce also explained that some firms are having to spend between £250,000 and £500,000 extra per year on paperwork so they can sell their fish to the EU market since the UK left the bloc officially on January 1 this year.

In a response to a question from SNP MP Pete Wishart about whether the industry's concerns were heard by the UK Government, she said: " Were our concerns heard enough? I don't think it was [sic],I don't think it was heard.

"The biggest thing that we need to get sorted out is the system's efficiencies, we need to cut down the administration it is taking to be able to process everything."

Ms Fordyce explained that before Brexit it would take two hours maximum to process all the paperwork needed for exporting produce, but now she said it takes between four and six hours.

She added: "The total time we had before was 22 hours to get to market. At the moment the best case is 28, the worst case is 39 hours.

"That reputational risk with customers...they are finding other supply chains. There are other countries waiting to take up these contracts.

"There are the Norwegians who are all over the salmon. These are losses, and they will be long term losses. How do we regain these markets again and regain the trust, the consistency?"

Martyn Youell, Senior Manager of Fisheries and Quota at fishing firm Waterdance told MPs that the description of the issues facing the industry as "teething problems" was a "particularly poor choice of words" from UK Government ministers.

The Prime Minister, Michael Gove and several other senior Conservatives referred to the export chaos as 'teething problems' when they first emerged after the end of the transition period, on January 1.

Mr Youell explained: "'Teething problems', we thought, was a particularly poor choice of words given that we found the difficulties in exporting product, and indeed in producing product by fishing companies, appear to be in the large majority systemic issues of trade under the agreement that's been reached to date."

He continued that while "some obvious issues" had "settled down", around 80 per cent of the trading problems are still in existence today.

"He added: "We think that without some real political action to change the terms of trade it will continue.

"At the moment we should be aspiring to have the closest trading relationship with the EU of any nation, given our shared history. Yet we're miles behind a lot of other nations in terms of the way we can trade, in terms of some of the details, so they're not teething problems for us."

The MPs heard that the compensation scheme announced by the UK Government for firms which can display genuine losses in sales as a result of Brexit may not be enough to support the industry through the pandemic and the Brexit problems.

Mr Fordyce explained that the fish processing sector, which is not eligible for compensation under the government scheme, has been particularly badly hit.

She also added that large firms, including four in Scotland, had been excluded from applying for funding despite experiencing the same issues.