Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil will meet with UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill MP on Wednesday to discuss potential solutions to assist the fishing industry with crew shortages.
Mr MacNeil has repeatedly highlighted the need for action from the UK Government to find solutions to a situation which has led to more than 6 fishing boats being tied up throughout the islands due to a lack of skilled crew.
He met with Mr Goodwill briefly in October and said initial early discussions had suggested the Minister was taking the industry’s concerns on board.
Mr MacNeil said: “I wrote to Mr Goodwill last month to further inform him of this extremely serious situation and to highlight that the UK Government’s current position on temporary work Visas for non-EU fishermen was hindering a solution.
“Previously many boats used seamen from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) which worked well for everyone and boosted the local economy. Indeed many of those previously employed are still in touch with their previous skippers to ask when they can come back.
“From discussion with Mr Goodwill, it is clear that he does understand the problem now and is keen to explore possible solutions at this week’s meeting.
“I would expect any scheme introduced to be administered at a Fishermen’s Association level who would monitor the situation for any migrant workers. A seasonal worker scheme would mean skilled fishermen from countries like the Philippines would be able to work for 10 months of the year.”