Isles MP Angus MacNeil met with UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill MP on Wednesday to discuss the crew shortage crisis facing the fishing industry.

Mr MacNeil met with Mr Goodwill together with Argyll and Bute MP, Brendan O’Hara and Margaret Ritchie MP South Down, Northern Ireland, both of whom also represent fishing communities.

Mr MacNeil said:

“This meeting was an opportunity to outline to the minister this crisis which is facing the fishing industry across Scotland. Currently the Scottish fleet is being kept at sea by EU and non-EU crew.

“I am pleased that the Minister has now agreed to meet with fishing industry leaders before the end of this year. This will include the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association.

“Boats are tied up due to lack of crew and not only does this have a devastating impact on the local economies but also means a loss of revenue to the Treasury.

“There needs to be a level playing field for the whole UK fleet to have access to seasonal non EU labour similar to other industries.

“The fishing industry is appealing to the UK Government to assist and there is a willingness on their part to ensure strict records are kept of non-EU fishermen.”

Currently on the West Coast, vessels fishing outside 12 miles from shore are still classed as being inshore while in the North Sea any vessel fishing outside 12 miles is classed as being in international waters. This also affects Northern Ireland.