Fishing Visas must work for industry says Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has challenged the Minister for Immigration Brandon Lewis, to meet with the Scottish Fisheries Industry to discuss ensuring that fishing visas allow fishing boats to fish where the fish are rather than where the visas allow.

In answer to Mr. Carmichael’s initial question, calling on the Government to meet with the Scottish Fisheries Industry, Brandon Lewis, the Minister for Immigration, who answered on behalf of the Government said:

“Thank you Mr. Speaker, I have already been meeting with some of my Honourable friends from Scotland, and I am meeting with a number of Scottish MPs this very week to discuss this issue. I would just say that during my recent visit to Edinburgh, I was also due to meet representatives of the industry. Sadly, they were unable to attend on that day.”

Following up Mr. Carmichael added:

“I’ll take that as my invitation to the meeting Mr. Speaker, I suspect that the problem he will have heard already is that the few visas that are available are transit visas. That means that boats are fishing where the visas allow not where the fish are to be found, and it leaves  many of the crew members vulnerable and exposed to exploitation. Will the Minister speak to the borders force about their insistence that crew members are classified as unskilled labour.”

Responding again, Mr. Lewis said:

“I am happy to make ensure, as it is a cross party meeting, that the Rt. Hon. Gentleman has the details of the meeting later this week. Obviously we are looking at all of these issues as we go forward, particularly in light of our leaving the European Union, and our future immigration policy, so I look forward to hearing their views.”

Speaking after the exchange Mr. Carmichael said:

“It is extremely important that we get this right for the fishing industry. The root cause of the problem is the classification by the UK Border Force of fishing crews as “unskilled labour.” This betrays a lack of understanding of how the fishing industry works. That one change could transform the situation.“

“I called for a meeting of the type the Minister outlined in his answer, back in July, so I am pleased that it is something that he has followed up on. I look forward to attending and discussing these issues with the Minister and fellow MPs, and I will fight for a flexible, sensible, visa system which works for all.”

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