Extract from the 'Annual report of the Fishery Board for Scotland', 1881.
The Fishery Board for Scotland was founded in 1909 to develop the herring fishing industry. It was responsible for regulating the boats, nets and processing of the catch. A network of inspectors ensured that the standards were met. It also provided funding for building harbours and boats to encourage fishing activity. It gradually came to oversee all types of fishing and published an annual report of its activities. These reports are a hugely valuable resource for historians.
Introduction. Transcript below:
'West Coast Herrings.- On the west coast of Scotland, as already mentioned, the fishing of 1881 shows a decrease upon that of 1880 amounting to 65,693 ¾ barrels. In the Loch Carron and Skye district, however, there was a remarkable increase, the take largely exceeding that of any previous year, and amounting to 64,775 ½ barrels as against 26,169 in 1880 and 13,747 ½ in 1879. The best fishing was got in Loch Hourn, where an immense body of herrings remained all the season. There was also an increase in the Inverary district of more than 25 per cent, and the small fishing of the Fort-William district rose from 1213 barrels in 1880 to 4507 in 1881.
At all the other stations, however, on the west coast there was a decrease; conspicuously at Stornoway, where the falling-off exceeded 70,900 barrels, and at Campbeltown and Ballantrae, where the fishing was above the average, although the decrease exceeded 20,200 and 13,900 barrels. The Loch Broom district, where the fishing in 1880 fell off nearly 7,000 barrels, again shows a diminution of some 2,000 in 1881, the broken weather having to some degree discouraged the fishermen. Greenock lost 50 per cent of the previous year, though in this case the decrease is probably due to local causes, and Rothesay shows a trifle over 4,000 barrels as against 11,000 in 1880. Probably the most special feature of the west-coast fishing was the return of herrings to the lower reaches of Loch Fyne, where (after an interval of many years’ poor fishing) not only was the take large in itself, but the herrings proved exceptionally good both as regards as size and quality'.