UK Borders Agency having second thoughts over Filipino fishermen

THE UK Borders Agency appears to have taken a step back from their crackdown on fishermen from the Philippines following a meeting with Na H-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Afterwards Mr MacNeil told the Gazette: "I have had talks with the Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Borders Agency, Mr Jonathon Sedgwick regarding the alarm caused in the fishing community with the risk of losing skilled Filipino fishermen from the industry due to the UKBA's actions.

"While Mr Sedgwick indicated that the UKBA felt that the current situation could not continue he did not want to devastate the industry and would take on board specific information regarding the fishermen from the Islands and West Coast fishing Community before permanent action would be taken."

The UKBA official also indicated that he wanted to maintain dialogue with the Isles MP over the coming weeks in order to further understand the specific problems.

The UKBA have been warned by Mr MacNeil that if they continue with their blanket approach, fishing leaders and skippers maintain that boats will have to tie up, as there is no pool labour available with the certification of many of the fishermen from the Philippines.

"In short it is becoming apparent that the Migration Advisory Committee has to treat fishing as the skilled occupation it actual is. Such a change approach would allow the highly regarded men from the Philippines a better opportunity to stay and work on the west coast of Scotland," commented Mr MacNeil.

"Meanwhile the UKBA have already stopped some fishermen returning to Scotland and I did raise a specific case he asked that I furnish him with further details. Therefore I would encourage any Western Isles fishermen who have specific difficulties with the UK Border Agency and fisherman to contact my office in the first instance."