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Commercial Fishing



ITF report on fishermen’s welfare: Statement from Fishermen’s Welfare Alliance. Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, speaking on behalf of The Fishermen’s Welfare Alliance (FWA), said:

“We welcome the ITF’s conclusion that the transit worker visa is not fit for purpose and does not meet the requirements of the UK’s modern fishing industry. Those parts of the industry that employ non-UK fishermen through the transit visa system have been lobbying government for many years for improvements, and were successful in having fishermen recognised as skilled workers in the new immigration system, but other barriers mean this route cannot be used in the way that industry had hoped. We would welcome the opportunity to look at this in more detail with government, including the Home Office and Defra.

“Whilst we are still studying the detail of the report published today by the University of Nottingham, at first reading it contains much that fishing industry representatives do not recognise, and is not representative of the situation across the UK as the report itself states. As industry representatives, we deplore and condemn bad practice and crew members being badly or unfairly treated, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. Many of the non-UK crew employed in the UK industry have been returning to work on the same vessels for many years and have contracts that take ILO188 and UK employment law into account. There is much that industry is doing to continually improve working conditions, including agreeing recently to work with a major UK retailer to help prepare non-UK crew for working in the UK fishing industry. We will continue to drive forward to ensure that all our workers are respected and well cared for.

“The government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has recently carried out a concentrated inspection campaign – making unannounced visits to hundreds of fishing vessels across the UK, and has not reported problems with working or living conditions aboard. We have a world-class regulatory system in the UK which is not raising systemic concerns or major problems on this issue. But there is more that government could do to support both the industry and the crew – for example, through keeping better records of transit visa workers, and having agreements with other countries about the standards and practises expected of crewing agencies in third countries that provide crew into the UK.”