Assynt Fisheries Oral History Project
Lochinver, in Assynt, has been an important centre for fishing from before the Herring Station was built in 1775.
This project sought to record the present status of the fisheries and the remembered history and stories associated with the development of fishing around the peninsula in living memory by local people. The project aimed to chart and record the evolution and progression of fishing practices and the livelihoods that these have supported over the last half century or more, in turn recording lessons for contemporary management approaches.
The objective was to shadow the different fishing practices that make up the fisheries in Assynt and record interviewees talking about their work, getting them to speak about their experiences and what they did, and now do, and how present conditions are shaping their future livelihoods. Each interviewee was asked to discuss their job, history, what they like/dislike about the work, views on the industry in context of what is happening environmentally, and the threats and potential benefits they see.
The interviewees targeted included workers on trawlers, creel boats, scallop divers, harbour workers, fish farmers, tour boat operators, ferry crews, winkle pickers, and oyster/seaweed farmers. The interviews make a valuable record of the status of marine livelihoods and the wider marine environment.
In addition to the recordings, the project has produced a book about the history of fishing in Assynt, as well as an information panel that can be displayed at various venues around the area. The book, ‘Fishing in Assynt’, priced £10, is being stocked by Inverbank newsagents Lochinver; the Rockstop, Unapool; the Ceilidh Place, Ullapool and Ullapool Bookshop, where it is also available mail order at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/ullapoolbookshop
Through the project Historic Assynt hopes to
- Increase people’s engagement with the marine environment and their awareness of the pressures and threats to it.
- Increase knowledge of the distribution of a variety of species found around the coast
- Gain a greater level of information and data about the Assynt fisheries, and make it more widely available
- Engage with a wide range of groups, including local residents, fishermen, restaurateurs / hoteliers and visitors to the area.