Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) highlighted the need for consideration to be given to adopting a more regionalised approach to post-Brexit immigration rules to support Scotland’s fishing sector.
During Portfolio Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted the threat that Brexit poses to Scotland’s catching and processing sector in terms of recruiting workers. Despite these challenges, however, fishing crew do not feature on the UK Immigration of Shortage of Labour list.
Orkney’s MSP therefore sought clarity from the Constitution Secretary, Michael Russell about what discussions have taken place between Scottish and UK Ministers to ensure that the specific recruitment needs of the fishing industry in different parts of the UK are met following Brexit.
In response, Mr Russell said that securing meetings with UK Ministers on this issue had proved to be ‘impossible’.
Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:
“Orkney’s fishing sector, like the Scotland sector as a whole, relies heavily on having access to crew members from both EU and non-EU countries.
“It’s no surprise, therefore, that Orkney Fishermen’s Association is voicing concerns about the impact Brexit could have in terms of potential labour shortages unless there is greater flexibility in how immigration rules are applied.
“One possibility of achieving this could be through regional variations that allow the needs of different sectors in different parts of the UK to be met. According to OFA, this could provide much needed certainty to a sector that is a lynchpin in Orkney’s local economy.
“It was disappointing, therefore, to hear that there does not appear to have been any meaningful dialogue between the UK and Scottish Governments on this issue. Our fishing sector should not be sacrificed to such constitutional wrangling and I would urge both sides to focus on identifying solutions to this serious problem.”