Saturday , February 27 2021
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EU Bans English Shellfish

Summary:
Deafer House Marsham Street, SW1  “Humphrey.” “Yes, Minister?” “What’s all this about the EU banning the imports of our shellfish?” “It is not all our shellfish, Minister, just live bivalve molluscs from UK class B production waters that have not been through purification or have not cleared testing.”“I’m not sure my club serves live bivalve molluscs, still less from class B waters.” “I believe there are about 140 species in all. Your club menu may include scallops, mussels and oysters in season, but perhaps not clams or cockles. Whelks and winkles are gastropods, not bivalves, and I doubt your club provides the necessary pins with which to eat them.” “Is this just because we are not filling in the EU forms using the right coloured ink?” “No, Minister, it is more serious than that. The EU

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Deafer House 

Marsham Street, SW1 

 

“Humphrey.” 

“Yes, Minister?” 

“What’s all this about the EU banning the imports of our shellfish?” 

It is not all our shellfish, Minister, just live bivalve molluscs from UK class B production waters that have not been through purification or have not cleared testing.”

“I’m not sure my club serves live bivalve molluscs, still less from class B waters.” 

“I believe there are about 140 species in all. Your club menu may include scallops, mussels and oysters in season, but perhaps not clams or cockles. Whelks and winkles are gastropods, not bivalves, and I doubt your club provides the necessary pins with which to eat them.” 

“Is this just because we are not filling in the EU forms using the right coloured ink?” 

“No, Minister, it is more serious than that. The EU wrote to us last September to confirm that the trade could continue and then, out of the blue, they wrote on 3rd February to indicate its cessation with immediate effect. They are blaming health precautionary grounds.” 

“That’s ridiculous, Humphrey. It’s not just bad faith; it defies common sense. We’ve been exporting oysters to the continent since Roman times with no more ill effects than their own domestic oysters – and they don’t even stop when there’s no R in the month.” 

“Well, the difference is that, under EU regulations, these bivalves have to be purified, i.e. washed, before they are retailed, and their purification plants are all in the EU.” 

“So no risk to health then: we send them to the EU plants, they wash them and eat them.” 

“Minister, I fear you do not quite understand their position: we have to get them into the EU before they can reach the EU purification plants.  When we were in the EU, that did not arise. Now we cannot get them to the plants. Come to think of it, we cannot even send them to Northern Ireland.”  

“That shouldn’t be a problem.  We can wash them in the UK and then send them over.  You said that was allowed.” 

“Two problems with that Minister: we do not have any bivalve mollusc purification plants. It is down to retailers to ensure that mussels and the like are wholesome and we have never had any problems with that apart from the occasional allergy or very rare bad one. Secondly, washing shortens their shelf lives and they would go off before reaching consumers.” 

“Good to hear that what can kill the continentals does us no harm at all.” 

“Not just the continentals, Minister.  Did you know that, during the dreadful Irish mid-19th century potato famine, their shorelines were full of nutritious mussels they regarded as inedible? The blandishments of sweet Molly Malone came 30 years too late.” 

“I’m glad you told me that, Humphrey. What are Class B waters?” 

“I am informed that the seas around Wales and the south-west of England are class B but those around parts of Scotland are class A. My informants are unclear about the other UK contiguous seas, nor who does the classification, nor how we might re-classify class B as class A.” 

“That’s not very helpful. Looks like they are pandering to the Scots.” 

“Yes, Minister, I fear that not even Marsham Street is omniscient. The only information I could find indicated that, under an EU directive, countries were responsible for classifying their own coastal waters and few of them had done so.  That is encouraging. I will seek the answers to these questions.” 

“What does the new treaty say about all this?” 

“It only mentions shellfish twice in its 1,246 pages. The first includes molluscs and crustaceans in its definition of shared fish stocks and the second says UK citizens cannot participate, in any way, in French shellfish farming.  Naturally it does not prohibit French participation in British shellfish farming.” 

“Humphrey, the whole shared stocks concept arises because fish swim about between territorial waters.  How do oysters, not to mention mussels, do that?” 

“I fear Brussels’ understanding of mussels, Minister, is limited to moules frites.”   

“And their understanding of herrings is limited to red ones.” 

“Very droll, Minister.” 

“From what you tell me, the bivalve molluscs EU fishing boats take from UK waters can be imported into the EU but the same shellfish caught by British boats cannot.  How much do EU boats take from our waters?” 

“We know 25% of all French fish catches are from UK waters and 80% of our shellfish catches went to the EU in 2018. I will endeavour to determine EU shellfish catches in UK waters.”  

“Why is the EU doing this, Humphrey? Is this because we wouldn’t give them our Covid vaccines? Or setting up a tit for some tat that we have or might do? Or just punishing us for leaving?” 

“I really cannot hazard an opinion.” 

“We have Lord Frost and all his merry men and women sitting around in Brussels.  Don’t they know? 

“They may well do and may, even now, be preparing a communiqué for our eyes but so far silence.” 

“The new treaty calls itself a Trade and Cooperation Agreement, yet Brussels is blocking the trade that has taken place for hundreds of years, with no notice, and refusing to cooperate. We are their largest customer, importing far more than we sell to them.  Wouldn’t you have thought they’d want to be nicer to us?” 

“We would because we are famously nice but Monsieur Barnier is so used to getting the better of Lord Frost that they see us as dependents. I am sorry to say this, but you are the Minister. What are you going to do about it?” 

“I think I’ll write them a letter.”  

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Tim Ambler
Tim Ambler (born 1937) is a British organizational theorist, author and academic on the field of Marketing effectiveness. Ambler featured on Marketing's list of the 100 most powerful figures in the industry. He is cited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of the top 50 marketing experts in the world

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