UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice will hear all about key challenges facing the Scottish fishing fleet during a visit to Peterhead and Fraserburgh tomorrow.
Concerns about the catch rules for next year and the impact of the looming discards ban will be among the issued raised by industry leaders in the two Buchan ports.
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “This is a timely and welcome visit by the UK Minister to the north-east of Scotland, given we are now in run-up to the negotiating season which will set quotas for 2015.
“We are also at the early planning phase of coping with the forthcoming discards ban, where there are so many questions that remain to be answered and which has the potential to devastate our fishing communities if managed badly.”
On catching opportunity for 2015, there is some good news in that key stocks such as North Sea haddock and prawns are poised for for higher quotas.
But reductions are advised for some others, including whiting and saithe.
Fishers fear their North Sea cod quota will also be cut despite the stock size continuing to increase year-on-year.
In addition, the industry potentially faces further cuts in the time boats can spend at sea.
Mr Armstrong said: “The problem with cod is that it is caught up in an intractable long-term management plan.
“At the moment, this plan is calling for a 20% quota cut for 2015.
“This would do little for stock conservation as it would only lead to increased discarding – something totally at odds with current EC (European Commission) policy.”
He added: “Independent science shows that a 10% increase in the cod quota would still deliver a 22% increase in the biological size of the stock next year.
“We will, therefore, be pressing the minister to ensure that the UK adopts a pragmatic position during the forthcoming negotiations, as well as ensuring that effort cuts are kept firmly off the agenda.”