An agreement has been reached between Macduff Harbour and Marine Scotland to relax designated port status regulations which have been in force for more than a decade.
Although it is not a designated landing port, due to its logistical importance Marine Scotland will now allow vessels to land larger volumes of fish, including sensitive species, when using harbour facilities.
Depending on the species of fish, skippers have been permitted to land small catches, but not if the catch comprised more than two tonnes of species such as cod or hake.
Prior to the new agreement, vessels had to land larger catches or those of sensitive species at other designated ports before travelling to Macduff to use the port facilities, such as the slipway.
Vessels will now be able to land their catch and use port facilities at Macduff – saving time and ultimately money.
The new agreement has been well received by the local fishing industry and could make a significant difference to the future services provided by the harbour, operated by Aberdeenshire Council.
Harbours Officer Duncan Mackie said the agreement is excellent news for the harbour and local fishermen alike.
“This is one of the many innovations Macduff Harbour is currently working on to regenerate the harbour, ensuring customers are offered the best range of services possible,” said Mr Mackie.
“Such innovations include new parking facilities at the bank head area of the harbour, participation in the Fishing for Litter scheme run by KIMO and the recycling of discarded fishing equipment.”
Branch chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association (Macduff Branch), John Clark, welcomed the “absolutely great” news.
“This has the possibility to bring a lot of needed revenue into Macduff Harbour,” he said.
“It seems there will be no more having to land catches in other ports en-route to taking our boats home to Macduff.”
Chairman of Macduff Harbour Advisory Committee, Councillor Mark Findlater, said the news had been greeted with real enthusiasm from committee members.
"The Macduff Harbour Masterplan is in full flow and this all adds to the regeneration of Macduff and its wonderful working harbour, as well as being a boon for the local fishing industry," he said.
"Having a KIMO skip now at the harbour is brilliant and it will be well used as part of the Fishing for Litter scheme. All fishermen in the north east are great custodians of the sea and will I am sure use this facility well."
Vessels will still be required to give Marine Scotland the standard notification period when landing fish at the harbour.