Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney welcomed an agreement reached at today's task-force meeting on a new system for migrant workers in the fishing industry.

The Government task force, chaired by the Minister, was set up to address the situation of non-European Economic Area workers in the Irish fishing fleet.

Welcoming the inter-departmental agreement, Minister Coveney said: “The new scheme will, I believe, greatly reduce the possibilities for the abuse of migrant works by unscrupulous employers.

“It will also help to improve the situation for Ireland's operators in the fishing industry whose reputation may have been damaged by these allegations, due to the widespread coverage of the matter.

“The new scheme will allow this valuable Irish industry meet its necessary labour needs while simultaneously allowing a structured transparent scheme whereby non EU workers can be recruited.

“These workers will be guaranteed all appropriate employment rights and protections during the period of their employment," he said. 

Minister of State for Business and Employment Ged Nash, who also participated in the task force, commented: “I want to commend everyone on the task force who have responded with great alacrity to the widespread concerns relating to exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers in a section of the fishing industry.

“What we have now is a new scheme to assist non EEA workers who are already operating on Irish vessels and a process to fill vacancies on licensed trawlers that is robust and fair.

“The new system introduces clear contracts and minimum pay, terms and conditions which are enforceable in Irish and EU law. In other words these fishermen will now enjoy the same protections as apply to every other worker in Ireland," Minister Nash said.

Minister Coveney added: “The agreement reached today represents a major step forward for the Irish fishing industry and for non EEA workers being employed in the industry.

“Appropriate flexibility will exist under the scheme for these employees to be recruited, but this can only be done in a clear regulated manner which ensures all relevant standards and protections for the employees,” he said.