The fishing industry in the last 40 years has suffered a massive decline. Since 1999 alone, the fleet of Scottish fishing boats over 15 metres has declined by almost 50%. Families that have worked the seas for generations are no longer involved in the industry, coastal fishing communities have lost their core livelihoods and culture, and many villages are turning to tourism as the major source of employment and activity.
It is vital that the story of these communities and boats are recorded and collected before the personal memories, knowledge, skills and artefacts disappear.
Casting the Net, a partnership between Clyde Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish Fisheries Museum, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, sought to capture and preserve the cultural heritage of Clyde Fishermen and their communities by looking at two strands: the heritage of ring net fishing alongside contemporary fishing stories.
The project was managed by coastal historian and film-maker Jill de Fresnes and comprised an oral history project, an online heritage archive and a portable community hub – the Ring Net Bus.
Throughout the project, members of the fishing communities shared their memories, photographs and films of ring-netting and their hopes for the future of the fishing industry. Working with local schools and residents, artist Deirdre Nelson redesigned the interior of the bus to retell the fishermen’s stories through digital design. It then toured the Clyde area and to Fife hosting reminiscence and learning sessions.
While the funded project ended in 2018, the material gathered is still being shared via this website – please have a browse.