Minister Higgins announces 150 employment permits for sea fishers

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Emer Higgins, has today introduced a new quota of 150 General Employment Permits for the role of sea fisher which will address skills shortages in the Irish fishing fleet.

Minister Higgins said:

“I am delighted to announce the expansion of the employment permits system to include the role of sea fisher. Opening this quota will help address labour shortages in this important sector. As we have reached full employment with over 2.7 million people at work here, there are some skills that are increasingly difficult for employers to access in Ireland and across the EEA, and sea fisher is a prime example.”

The Department of Justice’s Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) for non-EEA Crew in the Irish fishing fleet was established in 2015 as a response to address claims of exploitation and trafficking of undocumented non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet. This new quota has been introduced following a recommendation by a cross-governmental group to move the role of sea fisher from the AWS to the Employment Permit System.

The role of sea fisher in the Irish fishing fleet is now eligible for a General Employment Permit with a minimum salary requirement of €34,000, up to a quota of 150 permits.

Minister Higgins continued:

“This is a really positive development as non-EEA sea fishers will now have access to the same benefits and protections as other non-EEA nationals employed in the State, particularly in terms of entitlements and protections.

“The transfer of this role to the Employment Permit System will streamline the permission process and make it easier to recruit non-EEA sea fishers. It is an example of how responsive our Employment Permits System is in addressing skills shortages in a way that can benefit both businesses and workers.”

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment consulted with sectoral and migrant worker representatives and that consultation process informed the inclusion of non-EEA sea fishers in the employment permit system and its associated regulations.