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Scampi set to disappear from menus without special fishing visa, ministers warn
20 April 2023, 14:15
Chip shop favourite, the humble scampi, could be set to disappear from menus without the introduction of a special visa for fishermen, a Conservative former minister has warned.
British companies rely heavily on foreign labour from the Philippines in order to harvest the crustacean, Scarborough and Whitby MP Sir Robert Goodwill claimed.
Speaking to Parliament, the MP has claimed a company in his constituency that relies on labourers to harvest the pub staple is likely to go out of business unless special visa exemptions are introduced.
Langoustines, a specific type of shellfish which lives in the coldest waters off the coast of Norway, is used to make scampi.
It follows changes to the visa system made by the Home Office in March, which meant foreign fishermen require a skilled migration visa in order to work in the UK.
Despite protests, the Home Office has refused exemptions for the sector.
Sir Robert Goodwill, Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, told the Commons: “I am not crying wolf when I say this is really putting at risk the scampi industry.”
Highlighting the case of Whitby Seafoods - an independent business operating in his constituency and in Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, the MP said the company relies heavily on Filipino fishermen to bring in the fish haul.
He said: “I hope maybe she or the immigration minister (Robert Jenrick) could join me in Kilkeel to see how the crew of Filipinos work together as a team, conversing in their own language and how the language test, although the point made about safety, actually, we need to come up with a solution to the language situation so that we can actually keep that fish coming in, keep those jobs onshore, and to keep scampi on our pub restaurant menus.”
In response, Home Office minister Sarah Dines said: “The language provisions are there for important reasons for the safety of those workers.
"It is the case there has to be a proper system of proper English level of attainment. As with every other industry in this country, there should be no exceptions.”
Continuing debate on the immigration issue, Lib Dem former minister Alistair Carmichael told the Commons: “These fishermen have done everything that every minister in every government would have asked of them.
"They have worked hard, they have saved, they have invested, and now they are being left facing ruin."
Highlighting the efforts of the fishing industry to resolve the issue, the Orkney and Shetland MP said proposals had been drafted for a special visa scheme.
The scheme is similar to one already in existence, used by seasonal agricultural workers and those in the offshore renewables industry.