Isles MP Angus B MacNeil will meet with UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP tomorrow (Wednesday May 23) for crunch talks over the future of the West Coast fishing industry.

Mr MacNeil, the SNP’s Fisheries Spokesperson at Westminster, will press the Minister on the need for urgent action to address crew shortages by allowing non-European Economic Area (EEA) workers to fill the labour gaps which have left local boats tied up at the pier.

Last night, the issue was the subject of a report on Channel 4 News with Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson visiting the Isle of Barra to hear from local fishermen who are struggling to crew their boats. The report also referred to Northern Ireland where the industry has been hit by the same issue.

The UK Government made the decision to end the concessionary scheme for non-EEA workers on fishing boats in domestic waters back in 2012  – a decision which has had a devastating impact on an industry which was previously supported by workers particularly from the Philippines, who are keen to return.

Mr MacNeil said: “I will make the case to the Immigration Minister tomorrow and hope she will listen to the pleas from the industry.

“The policy of the hostile Home Office is damaging the economy of the West Coast by failing to support the fishing industry which also has an impact on onshore jobs.

“The crew shortage issue can be remedied easily by reverting to the previous scheme which allowed non-EEA workers to work on west coast fishing boats.”