Urgent action continues to be needed to support the west coast of Scotland’s fishing industry, repeats Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Mr MacNeil submitted a parliamentary question to the UK Government’s Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel, last month asking what plans she has to enable non-European Economic Area (EEA) fishermen to gain employment on fishing boats on the west of Scotland.

Currently skippers, including those on the islands, are struggling to recruit crews and need, like on Ireland, non-EEA fisherman.

Mr MacNeil said the response to his question from Kevin Foster, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Home Department, was “very disappointing” and “vague” and he will continue to press the UK Government to set a date for when non-EEA fishermen will be permitted to join crews.

The response stated: “From 1 January 2021, we will introduce the UK’s points-based system.

“The future points-based immigration system will prioritise attracting the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services.”

Mr MacNeil said: “This response from the UK Government is very disappointing and vague and displays little understanding of the current situation facing our fishing industry.

“Boats are being tied up due to lack of crews. This is damaging for skippers, the processing sector and our economy.

“I will continue to pressure the Home Office on this issue.”