Fishing history project launched

A NEW fishing history project is under way at the NAFC Marine Centre with the appointment of Bobby Gear from Scalloway.

Mr Gear, who graduated from the University of St Andrews this summer, will be carrying out the project on the post-war development of Shetland’s pelagic fishing industry over the next three years.

The main aim is to provide an accurate and comprehensive record of the changes that have taken place in the industry since World War II. It will attempt to explain how and why the changes occurred, identify the factors that influenced the development of the industry and examine the wider effects that these changes had on Shetland’s fishing industry and communities.

The project will also compare the changes which occurred in Shetland’s pelagic fishing industry with those seen in other areas of Scotland, and possibly beyond.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with Shetland Amenity Trust and the University of Hull’s Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, and is being funded by Shetland Catch Ltd (through the Arthur Laurenson Memorial Bursary) and Lerwick Port Authority.

Mr Gear said: “I believe this is an important project for Shetland that will record a lot of information that hasn’t been looked at before. I hope to interview fishermen active in the chosen period and record information for the archives that otherwise would be lost forever.

“From a personal point of view, I’ve always wanted to do a PhD and this is a unique opportunity to do the highest level of study at home in Shetland on a subject which is of great interest to me.”

Mr Gear graduated in June with a joint honours degree in modern history and theology. His honours dissertation focused on the Hanseatic fishing league in Shetland.

After reading up on the secondary literature available – the existing accounts of the pelagic fishing industry – Mr Gear intends to interview fishermen and other people who were, and are, involved in the industry.


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