North East Lincolnshire Council’s port health team are working with colleagues in Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands as part of their preparation for the start of new trading rules.
Officers have regularly met online with seafood industry representatives to share knowledge and experience ahead of the introduction of new import controls coming into effect over the coming months.
They also met with the UK’s new ambassador to Iceland, Dr Bryony Mathew, to discuss readiness for the changes coming into force.
Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese fish imports are crucial to Grimsby’s seafood industry.
Grimsby has one of the largest seafood processing and trading clusters in the northern hemisphere, employing 6,000 people.
New rules for imports into Great Britain from the EU, and those countries harmonised with the EU’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, come into force on 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022, continuing the phased introduction of the UK’s new Border Operating Model which started after the EU Exit Transition Period ended on 31 December 2020. This staged approach includes seafood imports from Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
The new rules mean that importers of certain food, feed and other products must provide certain documentation and be subject to risk-based checks before it can cross the border.
Commercial Regulatory Manager, Neil Beeken described the Council’s Port Health responsibilities and how the team is preparing for the rule changes. He said:
“We were a team of 20 officers, covering food safety, port health and trading standards, but have expanded our team to over 50 for both Export Health Certificate provision and upcoming import controls.
“We have worked closely with importers and exporters during the transition period and since then to make sure they understood what was required of them. This included training on new systems, issuing guidance documentation and making them aware of import controls.
“We also worked with a local business to create an Export Logistics Hub – a facility in which smaller consignments / loads can be collected from around the UK and consolidated in one location, enabling small to medium sized enterprises to continue exporting by sharing the costs with others.”
The team has also worked with other local authorities and carried out trial runs with a Border Control Post in France to check and review the process for issuing Export Health Certificates for exports to the EU, for which controls have been in place since 1 January 2021.
Recently, the team shared their experiences of handling greater demands for Export Health Certificates with equivalent authorities in Norway, Iceland and Faroes Islands, who are now preparing for the introduction of this requirement for imports into Great Britain from 1 October. Mr Beeken added:
“The feedback from those taking part in the presentations was that it was incredibly useful.“Like us, they are keen that the communication channels remain open, and we want to build on the initial session with more meetings in the run up to the 1 October changes. A significant proportion of fish supplies from those countries are imported to the UK via Immingham and we will be implementing import controls at the new Border Control Post for Grimsby and Immingham ports, so building these relationships now will be crucial.”
The meetings are facilitated by DEFRA and the Grimsby Seafood Cluster. Simon Dwyer, Grimsby Seafood Cluster Director said:
“The Grimsby seafood processing and trading cluster values the work NELC Port Health team have been engaged with during the past 12 months and the future planning for October and January 2022 changes. Their willingness to knowledge share with senders of fish particularly, fresh fish from Iceland, Faroes and Norway is welcomed.”
Cllr Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:
“We’re preparing ourselves for the new rules on imports coming into force on 1 October and 1 January 2022.
“Businesses who trade with the EU also need to be ready. Familiarise yourself with the changes coming in, there is an abundance of material available to help.
“We want to make the process as simple as possible for those that move food products through our area.
“If you’re not sure and need help or advice, please contact our team by email at email@example.com.”
“Our Port Health Team play an essential role in the fish trade, the industry that Great Grimsby is internationally known for, making sure that we do all we can to keep businesses importing and exporting food and other products safely through our ports.
“Their ultimate role is to protect public, animal and environmental health on a local, national and international level by regulating imports and exports of food and feed.”
New trading rules on imports into Great Britain from the EU come into force on 1 October 2021 and 1 January 2022.
The new rules mean imports of certain food and feed must be subject to documentary requirements and risk-based checks before they can move into the country.
North East Lincolnshire Council’s Port Health team is responsible for inspecting consignments of fish and other relevant products to make sure they meet legal standards as well as import or export requirements.
They also check all paperwork is in order, undertake traceability and storage checks as well as inspecting consignments to make sure they meet relevant hygiene and safety standards.
Their work is vital to the local economy. North East Lincolnshire is an internationally important food manufacturing and distribution hub. Grimsby has one of the largest concentrations of food manufacturing, innovation, storage and distribution in Europe. A substantial proportion of the UK’s seafood is produced and handled in the area.
New controls for imports from the EU are being introduced in stages. From 1 October 2021, imports of products of animal origin (POAO) for human consumption will require health certificates and pre-notification on the UK’s IPAFFS system. At this point, they will also be subject to remote documentary checks. From 1 January 2022, those products will be required to enter Great Britain via points of entry with appropriately designated Border Control Posts (BCPs), including Grimsby and Immingham ports, and will be subject to risk-based identity and physical checks.
North East Lincolnshire Council is working with Associated British Ports and other government agencies to deliver new Border Control Post facilities by 1 January 2022.