Isles MP Angus MacNeil has invited Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP to visit the Islands to see fo the ‘economic emergency’ facing the fishing industry due to crew shortages.
With backing from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and colleagues in the Scottish Government, Mr MacNeil is calling on Mr Javid to urgently intervene and to support skippers by allowing them to source non-EEA labour – as he has done for the UK horticultural industry.
Roddie Mackay, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “For us in the Western Isles, these are vital jobs in small, economically fragile communities.
“To have fishing curtailed will do untold, and potentially irreversible damage, and it is vital that we get a speedy and positive decision from the UK government.
“A political fix is required and is do-able so we urge the Home Secretary to protect a key industry which is crucial across our in country and particularly in these islands.”
Mr MacNeil said: “We must be in no doubt that we are facing an economic emergency. But it can be resolved quickly and easily by the Home Office if they want to support the industry. I am being contacted regularly by skippers who are tying up boats in the harbour because they cannot get a crew together.
“Work Visas for non-EEA workers have been given in farming, they have also been given to offshore wind construction even though they didn't seem to want them; but fishing, that has shouted the longest and the loudest has been ignored.
“Any economic damage the Home Office causes to fishing boats, fish processing and communities should result in the UK Government paying compensation if they will not lift the pen and sort this issue now.
“If Sajid Javid wants to be Prime Minster he must show he can lead and take the correct decisions.
“I have spoken to seven Immigration Ministers on this issue over the past few years and enough is enough.”