The Upper Bann representative said:
“The availability of crew has been an issue for the fishing industry for many years now, and not too long ago I joined with my colleague Jim Shannon MP and representatives of the Northern Ireland industry in meeting with Robert Jenrick MP, Minister for Immigration, to express the concerns we hold for the future of the industry if such a concession was not granted.
Once again the Government have refused to adopt a common sense, practical approach to a very solvable problem. These schemes are in place for crew employed on work boats in the aquaculture industry and in the construction and servicing of offshore windfarms. It is inexplicable that the Government are singling out the fishing industry for a separate, damaging policy.
Not only does a large part of the UK’s fishing fleet face a cliff edge because of this decision, but supplies of UK caught seafood are being put in jeopardy, with knock on consequences for UK seafood processors. Welfare concerns and allegations of abuse have been highlighted as areas of concern within the Home Office. Within the UK these can be answered. The UK has one of, if not the highest standards of crew health, safety and welfare controls worldwide. Yet the Home Office decision risks overseas fishing crew being redeployed to fishing fleets where it is well known that abuses are not just allegations, but are fact.
We need the Government to rethink this decision, and to stop with their inconsistency. The fishing industry has huge potential, but this can only be achieved with the workforce being available to utilise opportunity. The Home Secretary must intervene.”