Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael (pictured above) has secured a commitment to meet with the immigration minister alongside a delegation from the fishing industry to discuss frustrations over access to foreign crew.
Mr Carmichael raised the longstanding issues that vessel owners face in bringing in skilled foreign crew due to inflexible visa requirements from the Home Office in a wider Westminster debate on 8 December on the government’s seasonal worker visa schemes.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said: “The seasonal workers visa scheme is simply one symptom of a broader disease, and the disease is that we do not have a migration system that is designed to produce the workforce that different sectors need.
“Can I bring to the minister’s attention another area, and that is the need for crew for fishing boats – something that has been a problem for years. We finally got a visa scheme, but we are still not getting the crew because of the level of written English language tests that is required to be passed.
“So even when ministers pass a scheme, the implementation of officials still thwarts the needs of the industry, and indeed the policy of ministers.”
Minister for immigration Robert Jenrick MP replied: “I’m very alive to those issues, and I am shortly meeting a delegation from the fishing industry, and so if he would like to join that, I’d be more than happy to extend the invitation.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said: “I look forward to meeting the minister to reiterate the frustrations that the fishing industry in the isles have about access to deckhands and other much-needed workers.
“This is an issue that has gone on for years – it is long past time to get a transparent, fair and workable system in place for the good of everyone involved.”
This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.