The Minister for Immigration has confirmed that he will be meeting the fishing industry to discuss the current issues on crewing

The Minister for Immigration has confirmed that he will be meeting the fishing industry to discuss the current issues on crewing

The UK’s Minister for Immigration has confirmed that he will meet delegations from the fishing industry to discuss the current problems of migrant workers to crew fishing vessels in the UK.

Minister Robert Jenrick took questions from the Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, Liberal Democrat MP. Alistair Carmichael, Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South and Jim Shannon from DUP.

Minister Jenrick was taking questions on the seasonal workers visa scheme on Thursday 08 December 2022.

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Mr Carmichael asked the Minister:

“The seasonal worker visa scheme is simply one symptom of a broader disease, which is that we do not have an immigration system that is designed to produce the workforce that different sectors need. Let me bring to the Minister’s attention another area that has been a problem for years: the need for crew for fishing boats. We finally have a visa scheme, but we are still not getting the crew because of the level of the written English language test that they are required to pass. Even when Ministers introduce schemes, the implementation by officials still thwarts the industry’s needs and the policy of Ministers.”

The Minister replied:

“I am very alive to those issues. I will shortly meet a delegation from the fishing industry that has been organised at the request of other Members. If the right hon. Gentleman would like to join that, I would be more than happy to extend the invitation.”

Claire Hanna asked the Minister in relation to issues faced by fishing boat owners in Northern Ireland:

Northern Ireland’s fishing industry, in places such as Kilkeel and Ardglass, is at risk of decimation because seasonal workers have not been included on the exemption list so far. That puts at risk the whole supply chain. If there is nothing to land and process, there is nothing for our distributors and nothing for our magnificent hospitality sector to put on its menus. Will the Minister confirm whether Northern Ireland fishing industry workers will go on the exemption list? Will he further explore the possibility of regional visas, because there are substantial differences not only in types of economic activity, but in salaries around the regions of the UK?”

He replied:

“I will shortly be meeting representatives from the Northern Ireland fishing sector. I think the issue arose in a Westminster Hall debate that the hon. Lady organised, so if she would like to participate, I am more than happy to extend an invitation to her. From the data that I have seen, I do not think that there are material differences in the wages and labour challenges in the different nations of the UK, or at least not such as to warrant the very significant change of having different immigration rules and procedures in different parts of the UK.

DUP Member of Parliament, Jim Shannon also questioned the Minister regarding the requirements language. He asked:

“Unsurprisingly, I too want to ask a question about the fishing sector, which has opportunities and jobs available but is having great difficulties filling them. I participated in the Westminster Hall debate with Mr Carmichael, and asked the same question—it is in Hansard. In our discussions afterwards, I also asked the Minister about a meeting with the fish producer organisations to discuss how we can use the present visa system. They are offering £25,000, with accommodation and food, and have put forward positive suggestions to address the English language capability issue. I am very encouraged by what the Minister has said about the meeting. May I respectfully ask him to let us have it as soon as possible? The POs want to meet before Christmas.”

To which Minister Jenrick answered:

“The hon. Gentleman was the originator of the meeting, which is now growing into a fairly substantial one—we will have to get a larger room. I will make sure that it is in the diary as soon as possible. I look forward to meeting him and other concerned colleagues.”

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Immigration Minister plans to meet with fishing industry on crewing issues

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