Government gives in on fishing deckhand visas

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed news that the Government is giving in over the campaign to include fishing deckhands on the skilled worker access list for visas. After initially refusing calls for a change in the visa policy from fishermen and pressure from Mr Carmichael in Parliament – including raising directly with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons – the Government has released a revision of its visa rules.

Deckhands on large fishing vessels (9m and above) are being added to the list of occupations which are eligible for the Skilled Worker route. Jobs are eligible where the job requires the worker to have at least three years’ full-time experience in using these skills.

Mr Carmichael said:

“This change of course is a victory for fishermen who have been let down by Home Office rules for too long. The change should have been made months ago but I am glad that we have finally made the Government see sense. In future ministers need to listen to skippers first rather than dictating to the industry on their own priorities.

“While we should encourage local uptake in deckhand jobs as much as possible, non-EEA deckhands have been a vital part of the industry for years and appreciated in our communities. If we want the industry to expand further in the coming years then demand for further worker support will not be going away.”

He continued:

“This is also about protecting fair and equitable working conditions for all fishing workers. Creating a clear route for non-UK deckhands will prevent unfair practices and ensure that the job market works for all fishermen.”

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