Fishing Industry Has Back To The Wall Says Hazzard

Tory policy a threat to local fishing industry says South Down MP Chris Hazzard

Tory policy a threat to local fishing industry says South Down MP Chris Hazzard

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has called on the British government to urgently engage with fishing representatives as the catastrophic impact of Tory immigration policy threatens the future sustainability of the local fishing industry.

The South Down MP has written to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman in an effort to highlight how changes to the visa system will have a devastating impact in Ardglass, Kilkeel and Portavogie fishing ports.

Chris Hazzard said: “For many years now our local fishing fleet has relied on workers from Asia and Africa; with workers accessing ‘transit’ visas that give them the opportunity to secure employment with vessels in Co Down.

“Following the introduction of the Nationality and Borders Act, the Tories are closing down this pragmatic approach to workers – a decision that will have catastrophic consequences for our local fishing industry.

“Despite previous assurances from the British Home Office that a light touch approach to enforcement would allow time for the industry to transition safely and sustainably to the ‘skilled’ visa system; the local fleet have now been informed by Border Force officials that a robust approach to enforcing these changes will begin within weeks.

“There is no doubt that the majority of our local fleet will be forced to tie-up their vessels as they understandably cannot afford the punitive penalties that would be applied if they were found to be in breach of the new draconian regime.

Chris Hazzard MP is concerned about the future of the fishing industry in the North.

“This would be catastrophic for our local industry – with severe human, and financial consequences for workers, families and the wider economy.

“A cliff-edge approach to re-staffing vessels would be dangerous, and massively expensive for an industry that is already struggling to recover from Brexit, Covid-19 and increasing operation costs. 

“The British government must urgently engage with fishing representatives to find an agreeable, safe and sustainable way forward that protects workers and future-proofs our local fishing industry,” said Chris Hazzard.


To apply for a ‘skilled worker visa’ through the UK Visas and Immigration agency, a foreign fisherman will need to weave his way through a complexity of bureaucracy with his/her respective sponsor in the UK.

However, Down News understands that the decision has been put on the long finger by the British government until Spring 2023, having been initially planned for implementation from the beginning of October this year.

The UK Visas and Immigration agency formerly known as the Border Agency manages applications to come into the UK for workers, students and those wishing to settle in the country.

A fishermen wishing to work in the UK will need to be sponsored by an employer here in the UK.

In the ‘eligible occupations’ list on the official website, a fisherman can apply for a visa and be paid £25,600 per annum or £10.10 per hour based on a 39-hour week. This average can be stretched over the year’s fishing into periods of quieter production times averaging out to 39 hours a week.

Fishermen starting work in the UK will need to have to be certified in basic skills such as fire fighting, first aid, sea survival, and understand risk assessment.