MP calls for urgent action to aid fishing

Three fishing boats are currently tied up in Barra due to the recruitment issue.

Three fishing boats are currently tied up in Barra due to the recruitment issue.

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Fishing boats are tied up at the harbour due to a lack of crew and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has called for action from Government to help skippers secure labour.

Many skippers in Scotland are facing major difficulties in finding crews and have often looked to outside the EU to fill the gaps in labour.

However, this has been made increasingly difficult by UK Visas and Immigration and Mr MacNeil is reiterating his call for more support from the UK Government.

Mr MacNeil said: “Three fishing vessels are tied up in Barra this week due to a lack of crew.

“A local firm had hoped to welcome two new crew members last week but hit another stumbling block when the workers were declined entry to the UK and sent home.”

Mr MacNeil is calling for Government to reintroduce a scheme for skippers facing crew shortages to be allowed to recruit workers from outside the EU.

He said: “Many skippers in Na h-Eileanan an Iar and all along the west coast, particularly in the prawn and white fish sectors, have had to tie up boats as they cannot crew them. This has knock on effects for the local economy, especially in onshore supporting industries.”

He added: “A solution to this issue was identified – the reintroduction of a scheme for sourcing temporary labour from out with the EEC, as is being introduced in the Republic of Ireland.

“The Government keeps saying this is not their problem and it is an industry issue, however this attitude does nothing to attract new entrants. After Brexit there was talk of taking control but fishermen are finding that they have no control and this is a UK Government problem.”

Mr MacNeil has written to Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP, on this matter.