The moving accounts and portraits of 12 passionate workers in the Scottish fishing industry are centre-stage in a major new exhibition.
Pride in the Seas is already online and will make its “real-life” debut in the Scottish Parliament in the coming months.
It is hoped it will help MSPs, government beaurocrats and others better understand the stories and values of Scotland’s vital fishing communities.
Following its stint in parliament, the exhibition will be available for tour across towns, schools, museums and other public facilities around the country.
Showcasing fishing industry pride but also its huge challenges in 2024
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) project aims to highlight the pride, heritage and commitment to sustainability of today’s fishing communities.
SFF hopes it will also deliver insights into huge challenges faced by fishers, such as diminishing access to fishing grounds, recruitment and “the fear of misguided government intervention”.
The exhibition will feature subjects from Shetland to Berwickshire, captured by acclaimed Scottish photographer Ian Georgeson.
We all have to play our part to make sure the industry can thrive.”
Among them are members of the Fraserburgh-based Robertson family – dad Mark and sons Adam and Paul.
They are from a long line of fishers and are now co-owners of a shellfish vessel, Zenith.
Despite the industry’s many challenges, the trio are optimistic for the future of the industry.
Mark Robertson said: “I’ve had my own vessel since I was 22. To now see Adam and Paul as skippers and part of our business is fantastic.
“We all have to work together to do the best we can – skippers, scientists, government.
“We all have to play our part to make sure the industry can thrive.”
Peterhead-based Colin Stephen, skipper of the Harvest Hope, is also featured in the exhibition.
With more than 35 years in the industry, he still gets a buzz from a good catch.
Representing the Scottish Pelagic Fisherman’s Association is Steven Mackinson.
Boasting more than 20 years in fisheries research, Mr Mackinson is especially proud of the work done to build collaborative approaches to sustainable fishery management.
Others in the exhibition include two Mallaig-based fishers, Willie John McLean and 19-year-old deckhand Erin Mackenzie.
“It’s great to see the younger generation have the same passion for the industry as I did, hopefully this exhibition will inspire more people to get behind the industry.”
SFF senior fisheries policy and science manager Elena Balestri also features.
So too does Shetland white-fish skipper Mark Anderson, who said: “I’ve been a fisherman all my life, and views on the industry have changed so much over the years.
“I hope that being part of a campaign like this will help… show how passionate we all are about the success of the fishing industry.”
Fishing industry ‘passion and pride’
SFF chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “The passion and pride of those working in the industry is a constant source of inspiration.
“They are out there in all manner of conditions, putting healthy, sustainable and climate-smart food on our tables.
“This campaign is a first-of-its-kind, and captures the spirit, integrity and quiet pride our fishing communities possess as they carry on centuries-old local traditions, while looking forward to a sustainable future for their sector.”
She added: “As well as all the positives there are concerns. Fishing is surprisingly complex.
“Fishing businesses are dependent on so many factors that no-one has any control over.
“This is neither right nor fair, and this campaign, Pride in the Seas, gives our fishermen a chance to tell their own stories.”
Ms Macdonald continued: “The dozen that we have interviewed are a snapshot into that frontline. They are the people immediately impacted when fishing grounds are lost or policies are implemented.
“But we are all impacted if Scotland’s fishing heritage is further diminished and our vital food security, both now and in future, is threatened.”
For those unable to see them in person, the exhibition and case studies can be viewed via the SFF website at sff.co.uk