GEORGE Eustice, the new UK Fisheries Minister, and Alistair Carmichael, the new Scottish Secretary, are to visit the Buchan harbour of Peterhead, Europe’s largest white fish port, on a fact finding tour tomorrow.
The two new Ministers will be touring the busy port at the invitation of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
During their visit to Peterhead, the Ministers will meet skippers and industry representatives from the whitefish, shellfish and pelagic sectors, covering all corners of the Scottish coast and the Northern Isles.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “We welcome this visit of the new Secretary of State and Minister to the North east at the very start of their time in office. Our fisheries are at a crucial period of the year just now, with the negotiating season to decide upon catching opportunity and management measures for 2014 well underway.
“It is exactly the right time for the ministers to see and hear about the Scottish industry in action, understand the challenges and see what part they can play in securing the future for us and for the whole UK industry.”
Mr Armstrong continued: “It is vital that the Scottish and UK Governments work closely together to ensure strong and effective representation of fishing and we therefore welcome the close interest of the two new Ministers in quickly engaging with our fishermen.
“During their visit, they will hear of all our concerns, including ensuring that there is a fair North Sea cod quota for 2014 that ensures the continuing recovery of the stock whilst at the same time preventing the unnecessary and wasteful discarding of fish, which will happen if the catching opportunity is reduced.
“We will also reinforce the need to ensure there are no more cuts in the amount of fishing days vessels can spend at sea as the fleet is already pared to the bone on effort and simply cannot sustain any more cuts.”
During the visit the SFF will also underline the importance of ensuring that the interests of Scotland’s pelagic sector are not undermined during the negotiations which began in London today in a bid to resolve the long running dispute with Iceland and the Faroe islands over the division of mackerel catches.