Western Isles MP Angus B MacNeil is disappointed with the response received from the Minister of State for Immigration, Brandon Lewis MP, regarding the crew shortage crisis in the West Coast fishing industry.

“I invited Mr Lewis to meet with representatives of the West Coast of Scotland fishing industry so as he could see the damage the UK Government’s rules on migrant workers is having on fishing communities,” said Mr MacNeil.

“The response from the Minister of State for Immigration shows a clear lack of understanding about the crisis in the West Coast of Scotland fishing industry.”

In March, Mr MacNeil hit out at the Home Office for failing to consider reintroducing a scheme which would allow non-European Economic Area workers to work in the industry.

And in July he wrote to Brandon Lewis MP calling on him to visit the West Coast of Scotland to meet with representatives of the fishing industry as they struggle with a shortage of crew.

Mr MacNeil continued: “The Minister has informed me that in April his officials met with the Scottish White Fish Producers Association and the Anglo-Northern Irish Fish Producers Organisation who were invited to work up some further proposals as to what sort of arrangements might assist in meeting its needs while not undermining the Government’s policy of restricting the use of non-EEA labour to fill less skilled vacancies in the UK - anyone who is, or has been, fishing would never describe this work as ‘less skilled’.

“The Minister has indicated to me that he thinks it would be best to see what emerges from these proposals before committing to my suggestion of a visit to the West Coast of Scotland.

“Many fear that this is a case of ‘kicking it into the long grass’ – I sincerely hope that this is not the case and I will be writing again to the Minister and reminding him of the damage being inflicted on the West Coast fishing industry.”