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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
The origins of Commercial Fishing in the UK - work in progress

Sailing vessels have been used for fishing for around 3-4,000 years ( earliest recorded in Egypt I think ) but it wasn't until the middle ages that great fleets of sail driven vessels began to dominate our coastal and distant waters. Initially these vessels fished with long lines of baited hooks fishing for Cod , Haddock and Halibut ( fished on the bottom anchored at each end ) eventually using long drift nets fished near the surface for Herring , Pilchards and Sardines.

The Beam trawl was first experimented with in the 1300's but didn't come into great use until the 1700's when the fleets of beam trawlers were sailing from Brixham and most of the South Coast of Englands ports. The Brixham fleets worked their way around from the English Channel grounds into the North Sea eventually finding the rich fishing grounds of the Dogger Bank which was soon called the "Silver Pits" because of the scales of the fish on the boats shining on the hull as they sailed into Whitby or Scarborough to land. It took the advent of the Steam Railways reaching Hull and Grimsby to push the docks owners into building fish docks and markets attracting the bulk of the Sailing Trawler fleets. Sailing-trawl-gear.jpg Sailing-trawl-gear-2.jpg

There are a great many different types of Sailing Drifter ( Cornish vessels differed from Brixham vessels which in turn were different to the Humber or Scottish fleets ) so I will not cover these here. The sailing drifters started from about 30ft ( NE of Scotland these were called Yawls ) and these boats didn't follow the Herring around the coast in the same way the larger vessels did , they fished the Herring only when they were within 30nm of their home port and fished with creels ( pots ) for Lobsters and Brown Crab ( Edible Crab or in Scotland they call them Partins ) and small versions of long lines for Haddock and Cod over the winter months. The Sailing Drifters over 45ft would follow the Shoals of Herring around the North Sea and around the West Coast of Scotland and down into the Irish Sea.

The Season would start mid May to Early June with the Herring being caught up around the Shetland Islands / Orkney Islands. By the end of July the Herring had migrated South and was being caught off the Buchan Coast ( NE from Fraserburgh to SE from Arbroath ). This fishery lasted until late August when the fleet would sail en-mass down to Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft for the Autumn fishery lasting until the end of October. The Scottish boats then sailed back North and West to fish in the Minch and around the Outer Hebrides and down into the Irish Sea until December / January when the fleet would head home to repair nets , sails and the vessels ( including a much needed paint ) before fishing with longlines for 1 or 2 months whilst waiting for the Herring Season to come around again. Driftnet1.jpg Driftnet2.jpg Driftnet3.jpg

The Humber ports sent sailing longliners all the way to Canada's Grand Banks in the 1700's and they fished all around Greenland , Iceland and Faroes. These vessels either split the Cod and salted them to preserve them or they had what would now be called a Vivier hold ( originally called Well Boats their fish holds were sealed fore and aft bulkheads with rows of holes in the sides of the hull to let seawater circulate to keep the fish alive so Cod caught off Canada would still be alive when landed in the UK ).
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