On 11 October 2022, the Department of Justice announced that non-EEA fishers would be eligible for Employment Permits. This followed recommendations made in the Review of the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet.
Non-EEA migrants in the Irish fishing fleet are currently employed under the Atypical Working Scheme. This scheme was established in 2015 to address reports of exploitation and trafficking in the fishing sector and is administered by the Department of Justice. Under the scheme, non-EEA fishers are issued with an Atypical Work Permit, which is valid for 12 months. A Settlement Agreement in 2019 amended the scheme to, among other things, remove the requirement of the employer to consent to a change of employer. This agreement followed legal proceedings brought by the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
Limitations in the enforcement of Atypical Working Scheme and the potential for human trafficking in the sector have been highlighted in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Reports. In 2021, researchers from Maynooth University found that conditions in the Irish fishing sector for migrant fishers had worsened since 2016.
The now published Review of the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet recommended that non-EEA fishers should be employed under the Employment Permit system, which is administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Review also recommended that non-EEA fishers should be able to gain access to a Stamp 4 permission.
According to the Department of Justice, 520 persons were granted permission under the Atypical Working Scheme since its introduction and were employed by approximately 100 vessel owners.
EMN Ireland/ESRI Report on detection, identification and protection of victims of human trafficking in Ireland can be read here.