City AM says that the UK government has privately accepted the EU’s ban on British shellfish exports is justified, despite publicly declaring otherwise.
Environment secretary George Eustice this week wrote to the EU Commissioner for food safety Stella Kyriakides to say that the ban – which applies to oysters, mussels, scallops, cockles and clams – was “legally wrong” and “unjustified”.
However, Politics Home reports that the Shellfish Association of Great Britain were told privately by Eustice’s department that the ban was correct.
A letter from the lobby group to its members said: “All along [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] have told us that they believe the trade in class B animals is legal and that the regulation supports this. They have now changed this position.
“They now say that they believe on balance that the EU view, that the trade is not legal, is in fact correct. This is in complete contrast to everything they have told us so far”.
A Defra spokesperson said: “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.”