Blog: Brexit immigration rule changes are a ‘disaster’, warn fishing groups – The Press & Journal

Fishing leaders from the north-east coast to Orkney and the Western Isles have joined calls to plead with the UK Government for a re-think of Brexit immigration rules.

They are angry about access to labour, shortages in the food supply chain and damage to high-value exports.

In a group letter, which builds on previous regional demands, they call for Home Secretary Suella Braverman to listen to their warnings about “disastrous” policies.

Why are they angry?

Nearly one in five fishermen working in Scotland are from outside the European economic area, including Ghana and the Philippines.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Image: Victoria Jones/PA

They can use a transit visa to travel to Scotland to board a vessel that will fish in international waters.

The UK Government wants to change the rules to ban those with transit visas from “all forms of activity within UK territorial waters and onshore”.

The impact of the UK’s new visa rules is a disaster for Scotland’s fishing industry.

– SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

Transit visa changes are already delayed from November to spring but the sector still feels the efforts fall short.

They say that without parallel changes to the Skilled Worker Visa scheme, labour shortages will get worse and vessels will be tied up.

Who has signed the letter?

The letter is signed by Iain Macleod of MacDuff Shellfish, and Donald MacLean of Barratlantic.

It’s backed by Duncan MacInnes of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, Donald Gibson of R W Gibson & Sons, and Hannah Fennell, who is an Orkney member of the Communities Inshore Fisheries Alliance.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Also signing the letter are the leader of the Clyde Fishermen’s Association and the SNP’s Westminster group, led by Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford.

MacDuff Shellfish, based in Aberdeenshire and the Western Isles, are among companies saying they are disappointed at access to a review of labour shortages in the food production chain.

‘Vital part of the economy’

“Scotland’s fishermen are vital to providing people with some of the heathiest most high-quality food that can be obtained anywhere in the world,” the letter backed by SNP politicians states.

“They are a vital part of both our economy and our society, and it is our view that the UK Government should be doing everything in its power to allow them and their sector to thrive.”

Mr Blackford said: “The impact of the UK’s new visa rules is a disaster for Scotland’s fishing industry.

“This crucial intervention – in coordination with leaders in Scotland’s world-class fishing industry – must be a wake-up call to the Home Secretary, and must lead to a complete rethink of the immigration rules at Whitehall which are not working for Scotland.”

The Home Office was approached for comment.

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