An employment scheme for ‘non-EEA’ crew members in parts of Ireland’s fishing industry has been launched and is an extension of the Atypical Working Scheme administered by the Dept of Justice & Equality (Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service).

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The scheme is being introduced following recommendations by the government task force on non-EEA workers in December.

“The scheme will provide a structured and transparent framework…within defined segments of the Irish commercial sea-fishing fleet and should meet crewing needs of the Irish whitefish fleet,” remarked marine minister, Simon Coveney.

The requirements will minimise risk of exploitation and ensure that workers are guaranteed all appropriate employment rights and protections during their period of employment, he added.

Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald said her department was in a position to make a “significant contribution” to finding a solution: 

“You can only provide an immigration regime when you have in place an employment framework for the sector…,” she said. 

Minister of State for Business & Employment, Ged Nash, who chaired the working grouop, is encouraging all skippers to avail of the scheme:

“Our work has culminiated in an MOU between the parties. Its purpose is to provide further coordination and cooperation between the parties to ensure the effective enforcement of statutory requirements in relation to the employment of non-EEA nationals on Irish-registered fishing vessels – in particular to prevent traffkicking and exploitation of workers on such vessels.”

From February 15 to May 15, 2016, the scheme only applies to existing crew members. Thereafter, all non-EEA workers intending to work in the fishing industry must first obtain an Atypical Worker Permission from INIS, and visa clearance, if application, prior to entering the State.

Prior to applying to the INIS, a contract of employment (and supporting documentation) between the non-EEA workers and the vessel owner must be lodged with the Central Despository, National Seafood Centre, Clonakilty, Co Cork.

Further details: www.inis.gov.ie and www.fishingnet.ie