Carmichael to press for urgent deckhand visa reforms in fisheries debate

13 Oct 2022

Mr Carmichael is expected to say:

“The government has been kicking the can on implementing a workable visa system for skilled deckhands for some time. ‘One-size-fits-all’ language requirements under the skilled worker scheme do not reflect the reality of what skilled work looks like on a trawler at sea and these cumbersome rules are acting as a bottleneck on desperately needed workers.

“We cannot punt on this issue any longer. Fishermen need a reliable, sensible route to get the skilled work support they need. Stop-gap efforts cannot last forever and so I would like to hear a roadmap from the minister on when this will be resolved.

“Across the board I have to say that fishermen in my constituency are feeling a deep sense of frustration that opportunities they were promised in past years have never quite been realised. Whether it is reforms to the quota system bringing fishing know-how in harmony with scientific surveys or the potential for a ban on destructive gillnetting, there is a strong feeling that a trick is being missed.

“All of this goes without mentioning the most immediate problem of inflation and the cost of living, which has hit fishermen as hard as anyone. Just this week I have heard that some smaller operators in my constituency have made the difficult decision to step away from the industry as they simply could not make the sums add up. That experience is likely to be replicated across the country and if we are not careful then short term challenges risk turning into long-term economic scarring for the fishing industry. It is up to the minister to set out what steps the government is taking to avoid this.”