The NAFC Marine Centre, in partnership with the Shetland Amenity Trust, is offering a new three-year research studentship, for a project on the history of Shetland’s fishing industry.

The studentship, which is being jointly funded by Lerwick Port Authority and Shetland Catch Ltd, will provide funding for a post-graduate student to study the post-war development of the pelagic fishing industry in Shetland, leading to the award of a PhD degree. (Pelagic fisheries target species such as herring, mackerel and blue whiting.) The award is the first of its kind in Shetland and marks a new departure for both the NAFC Marine Centre and the Shetland Amenity Trust.

NAFC Marine Centre’s Fisheries Development Manager, Dr Ian Napier, explained: ‘Shetland’s fishing industry has undergone many changes, especially over the last 50 years or so. Arguably the pelagic sector has seen some of the most dramatic changes. These have included the change from traditional drift nets to purse-seines and then pelagic trawls, the collapse and recovery of its principal target species (herring), and increasingly stringent management measures under the European Common Fisheries Policy. Pelagic processing in Shetland has also seen huge changes over this period, culminating in the development of the Shetland Catch factory.

‘One of the main aims of the project will be to record the changes that have taken place in the pelagic industry. An important element will be recording the recollections of the people that were – and are – involved in the industry.’

Shetland Archivist Brian Smith commented: ‘Despite the importance of the fishing industry to Shetland, very little information has been recorded about its recent history. Previous studies of fishing in Shetland have tended to concentrate on the 19th Century, or at the most no later that the inter-war period. This project will help fill an important gap in our records and we are very grateful for the financial support of Shetland Catch Ltd and Lerwick Port Authority which has made this project possible.

The studentship will cover tuition fees, a stipend, and travel and other project expenses for three years, with the student based at the NAFC Marine Centre. The project will be carried out with the assistance of the Maritime Historical Studies Centre at the University of Hull. Anyone interested in applying for the studentship should contact the NAFC Marine Centre. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.