Scampi is at risk of disappearing from pub menus if ministers do not create a bespoke visa scheme for foreign fishermen, a North Yorkshire MP has warned.
Scarborough and Whitby MP Sir Robert Goodwill claimed a company in his constituency that relies on labourers from the Philippines to harvest the pub grub staple could go out of business without special visa exemptions.
Changes to the visa system made in March mean overseas fishermen coming to work in the UK will need a skilled migration visa, with the Home Office refusing exemptions for the sector.
Sir Robert told the Commons: “I am not crying wolf when I say this is really putting at risk the scampi industry.”
The chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee raised the case of Whitby Seafoods, which operates in his constituency and in Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, relying on Filipino fishermen to bring in the langoustines needed to make scampi.
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.”
Under the new rules, workers need to prove they have a good level of English attainment to be granted a visa.
Sir Robert said: “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.”
Home Office minister Sarah Dines replied: “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.”
The minister added there would be further financial support for the industry, telling MPs: “There is going to be a detailed generous package which will be announced imminently to allow the fishing industry, who have taken time to get away from this historic practice, to be able to come in line.”