non-eea fishers employment permits

Pathway to Employment Permits will allow for the eventual transition of Non-EEA Sea Fishers in Irish fleet to become eligible for employment permits

Pathway to Employment Permits will allow for eventual transition to Stamp 4 immigration permission and its wider entitlements

The Irish Government has approved the publication of the Review of the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet. This report and its recommendations follow an extensive consultation process with stakeholders involved in the scheme.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue jointly welcome Government support for the recommended changes to the employment of non-EEA fishers in the Irish fishing fleet.

The Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) for non-EEA Crew in the Irish fishing fleet was established in 2015 as a cross Departmental response to address claims of exploitation and trafficking of undocumented non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet.

Currently, non-EEA fishers can apply through the Department of Justice for a permission under the Atypical Working Scheme to work on a specific Irish vessel for a period of up to 12 months, but they are not eligible for consideration for the granting of an employment permit by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

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The key recommendation of the Review Group is that the employment of non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet should be provided for under the Employment Permit system (administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment), instead of the Atypical Working Scheme (administered by the Department of Justice). The sector will be required to submit a comprehensive business case to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to support their inclusion in the Employment Permits System and a process of engagement has already begun in this regard.

The transition to the employment-permit based system would entitle employment permit holding Seafishers to transition to a Stamp 4 immigration permission and the wider entitlements offered by that permission.

A cross-departmental group of senior officials in relevant departments and agencies will be established to oversee implementation of the transition from the current scheme to the Employment Permits Scheme. This group will be co-chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The overall time frame for implementation of the report’s recommendations is expected to be approximately 12 months.

Publishing the report today, Minister McEntee said:

“The publication of this report and its recommendations is the first step in putting non-EEA Seafishers on a similar path to other Non-EEA nationals employed in the State in terms of entitlements and protections.

Non-EEA fishers and their employers will now be entitled to apply for an employment permit through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

These recommendations will also benefit Seafishers employers, by streamlining the permission process and making it easier to recruit non-EEA Seafishers.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said:

“I have asked my Department to examine the Review Report and to work closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment with a view to ensuring the full implementation of the recommendations. I have also tasked an Bord Iascaigh Mhara with providing the fishing sector with any practical assistance necessary to support of the sectors access to the Employment Permit Scheme”.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Minister of State Damien English said:

“The recommendations in this Report will go a long way to addressing the concerns raised by stakeholders in the sector. Of course, the Employment Permits system works very differently from the Atypical Working Scheme so it is proper that there will be a phased implementation in order to identify and address any challenges which arise and deal with these in the most effective way possible.”

The Review Group consisted of officials from the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The key recommendation of the group is that the employment of non-EEA crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet be provided for under the Employment Permit system (administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment), instead of the Atypical Working Scheme (administered by the Department of Justice).

The recommendations proposed will also give individuals employed in this sector of the fishing industry access to a stamp 4 immigration permission in due course, which has been sought by this cohort for some time.

It is proposed that a cross-departmental group of senior officials in relevant departments and agencies be established to oversee implementation of the transition from the current scheme to the Employment Permits Scheme, to be co-chaired by DAFM and DETE

Currently a number of Departments are involved in the operation of the scheme and it is monitored by an Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine with members from relevant Departments and State Agencies, including D/Justice.

There is a cap of 500 permissions available to the sector under the scheme. This cap has not been reached since the inception of the Scheme.

As of 30 September 2022, a total of 520 individuals, employed by approximately 100 vessel owners, have been granted permission under the Scheme since its introduction and there were 277 individuals, employed by approximately 60 vessel owners, holding a letter of approval under the scheme granted between 1 July 2021 and 29 September 2022.

The report and its recommendations refer to the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet only and not other Atypical schemes administered by the Immigration Services of the Department of Justice.

Non-EEA Sea Fishers in Irish fleet to become eligible for employment permits

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