Work permits for migrant fishing workers have been equated to dog licences at an Oireachtas committee.

The Coordinator of the International Transport Workers' Federation told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that he has seen dogs treated better than he has seen in the fishing industry over the past two years.

Ken Fleming said he was ashamed to be Irish.

The Oireachtas Committee is discussing crew members from outside the European Economic Area working in the Irish fishing fleet under the Atypical Worker Permission Scheme.

The scheme was set up for migrant workers last year by Minister Simon Coveney when he had responsibility for agriculture and the marine.

It was implemented in the wake of a year-long investigation by the Guardian newspaper on exploitation within the Irish fishing industry.

However, figures obtained by RTÉ’s Prime Time earlier this year found that the scheme is being flouted by many trawler owners.

Mr Fleming and representatives of the Migrant Rights Centre gave powerful testimonies at this evening's meeting.

Derbhla Ryan of the Migrant Rights Centre said exploitation and non-compliance is widespread in the sector.

She said 33% of migrant fishermen experience verbal and or physical abuse, 48% don't feel safe at work and there is a lack of rest breaks, days off and safety equipment on boats.

Ms Ryan said exploitation and non compliance is widespread in the sector with 64% of employees doing extra duties without any pay.

The Migrants Rights Centre said that the scheme has not achieved what the Government set out to do.

Mr Fleming told the Committee "We've legalised the slavery".

He said it was a political bomb that governments are not willing to touch.