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Our Fishing Heritage
Videos on the Scottish Fishing Industry

I decided to try and find some videos about the Scottish Fishing Industry and so here are some that I found...

Creel Fishing in Scotland

Scalpay: Last of the Fishermen

"My name is Ruth and I was born and raised on the Island of Scaplay off Harris when the fishing industry was a large part of the Island life. My father is a fisherman which he has been from an early age. From my early memories I can remember many boats heading off early to get their daily catch, and my uncles gang were out for many days at a time.

Times have changed now, their are only a few boats going out with the same fishermen on board. The younger generation don't choose this way of life anymore as it is hard and times are changing. Each year the amount of boats going out to sea is falling, which will soon leave only a handful and probably going only for pleasure, rather than a way of a living."

Johan Hallberg-Campbell: Photographer.

Scalpay: Last of the Fishermen is a documentation of a remote Island of the Hebrides of Scotland. Having left Scotland, whenever I return, I notice change. This is something that intrigues me as a Scottish person. The changes are happening very quickly, Scotland has finally opened its doors to the rest of the world.

I had noticed how the small Highland town of Inverness (my hometown) had taken on a different dynamic. It has become a very diverse community with the influx of Eastern Europeans, mostly Polish. My interest in the town strengthened. I began shooting a long term photographic project, delving deeper into the two cultures that are merging in this town near Loch Ness.

At that time I also begin to think about Old Scotland. Growing up I heard much about Scalpay; my father was born there, he left before he was five. The Island was like a fairy tale to me, far away on a distant planet, stories of crofts, religion and fishing.

I decided to go to the Island to document the people living there. I was told that there had not been a birth in seven years, the Gaelic speaking Islands fishing tradition is fading away, and the people of old with it. The last corner shop closed in 2007, the pre-school also shut down that year. The primary school has two or three pupils and there is no High School. Over the years the population has sunk to 300.

The young leave to seek work. To me this Island symbolizes a Scottish way of life that is disappearing, like many other places in the world! How it was a 100 years ago, The Last of the Fishermen.

Trawlermen's Lives - Real Stories

1991 Western Isles Open Sea Angling

This is the raw footage that the camera man took when he filmed Stornoway Sea Angling Club, and the Western Isles Open competition in 1991 for an episode of Paul Young's Hooked on Scotland. I uploaded it, just for people to see younger faces from 20 years ago, themselves and sadly some faces that are no longer here with us. There is lots of footage in the clubhouse, with interviews going on ... you might recognise a face or two in the background.

As all us Scottish anglers know, Paul Young's .... Hooked on Scotland, and Hooked on Fishing was the very very best fishing progamme on the TV, and still is! You can buy DVD's, videos, books etc online from Amazon, so please have a look

Scotland's fishing boats being sold - "Bye bye Beulah"

Photographs from 'Shona McMillan People and Songs of the Sea' project highlighting the sad and challenging times of Scotland's fishing industry. Unable to make a living, with high fuel prices, an economic downturn and amidst strict and controversial government legislation - Scottish fishing boats are being sold off or decommissioned at a rate which will see them all but disappear from our harbours. Through European legislation, it looks like fishing in Scotland's waters will end up being left to foreign boats (who can receive subsidies from the governments of their origin). It is arguable as to whether the strict legislation applied in Scottish and UK waters is all for environmental reasons (instead of more political ones). For example - it is NOT an environmentally sustainable procedure to dump dead fish back in to the sea but if a fisherman exceeds his catching quota then that is what he is legally forced to do. Once caught in a net, fish dumped or 'discarded' back in to the sea will not live so WHY are fishermen forced to by law to comply with legislation which actually does more harm to the sea than good? Many fishermen are disgusted at the extent of fish they are forced to dump and believe that this could be more than 50% of what they catch. Before a net is pulled in a fisherman can not tell what the catch will be... Personally, Shona would rather an advance harbour landing quota was set for each boat and when that was reached, if exceeded, the additional fish would still be landed but sold off and the money put in to a mutual financial pot - the money from which could go towards fishermen, who nearing their quota limit, would then be subsidised NOT to go out to sea with the immediate risk of surpassing their landing quota. This would spread fishing across an entire year (not govern it by a quota of days so fishermen did not risk going out in bad weather to fish) giving fishermen the whole year to manage the landing of their agreed quota (and not polluting the sea with dead fish). I DO THINK the industry needs to be governed BUT the current legislation is not just lacking in sunstance but it is misinformed and detrimental to the industry and the environment. People outwith the industry may assume that the problems experienced in the industry are caused by over fishing but to assume this is not to see the bigger picture - the government legislation is NOT environmentally friendly. At a sickening rate, the fishing boats are disappearing from around Scotland's coast and with the boats goes the industry, the local economies and communities which have been built up through the fishing which has sustained them for hundreds of years. Suddenly all this is changing, almost overnight.

People who go to sea are most likely to follow their family tradition to work in the industry. Accordingly, when fisher folk are finally forced out of fishing - it is very unlikely that non fishing people will enter in to the industry (which needs young people to survive). Once the fishing skills are lost to the industry, the community is also lost. More needs to be done to to help these fishing communities with the extent of socio-economic problems they are currently experiencing in the rapid decline of the fishing and the demise of the community which once bound them together. For a young person to learn to fish, to purchase a boat and go to sea - the significant costs to enter the industry are greatly prohibitive. It is amidst such problems that legisaltion is required but WHAT is being done to help? And, can more be done?

Descended from a fishing family, Shona's photos and videos are part of her self-financed People and Songs of the Sea project, winner of the Livireland and Irish American News "Creative Project of the Decade" (2000-2010) and the compilation CD (available from  ) winner of "2010 Compendium Album of the Year." In 2009, Shona's photo exhibitions were visited by 12,000 people and she is now focussed on a body of work for exhibition in 2014, Homecoming II.

For more information please visit website

Arbroath Harbour 1982 - Farewell to the Trawling Trade

The harbour at Arbroath, Angus, Scotland fimed 30 years ago in 1982 when locally based fishing vessels still plied their trade. My video shows some of the boats unloading their catch and the fish being auctioned off on the quayside. Scenes never to be seen again.

Peterhead North East Scotland
A wee snippet of the Fishing Port of Peterhead North East Scotland in February 2011

Anstruther Herring Fleet 1935 part one
Steam drifters and ring-netters in Anstruther harbour. Fishermen getting ready for a fishing trip and then heading out to sea.

Anstruther Herring Fleet 1935 part two
Steam drifters and ring-netters coming into Anstruther harbour. Fishermen landing the catch and packing herring into boxes. The boxes are then transported by rail from Anstruther station and loaded onto a ship at Methil Docks.

Peterhead Fishing Boat
Decomissioned MFV Golden Splendour sails for the last time out of Peterhead North East Scotland 06/12/2010. A Sad Day for Skipper Neil Thomson'his crew' his vessel and Scotland!  Time and Tide Waits for No Man nor Vessel!!

The Shoals of Herring - Part 1 of 5
The Shoals of Herring. A documentary film based on a 1950s Radio Ballad called `Singing the Fishing' by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, about the rise and decline of the herring industry on the east coast of Scotland and East Anglia. Contemporary footage of the fishermen at work is intercut with interviews and archive photos, clips from John Greirson's DRIFTERS, Harry Watts' NORTH SEA, and Campbell Harper's CALLING HERRING. Traditional folk songs are used throughout.

The Shoals of Herring - Part 2 of 5

The Shoals of Herring - Part 3 of 5

The Shoals of Herring - Part 4 of 5

The Shoals of Herring - Part 5 of 5

The Shoals Of Herring sung by Ewan MacColl
Photographs of the long departed herring fishing in Great Yarmouth with Ewan MacColl's The Shoals Of Herring

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