Until only 20 years ago, Scarborough was one of the leading whitefish landing ports on the East Coast of England.
Above: Buyers evaluate the contents of traditional wooden fish boxes on Scarborough fishmarket in October 1984.
As this selection of interesting photographs shows, Scarborough fishmarket was a hive of activity each morning, with local buyers bidding for freshly caught fish, predominantly cod, caught by some 30 keel boats. The majority of the local fleet were 15m-20m trawlers, a number of which fished the local grounds on a daily basis.
Healthy stocks gave a number of young and strongly motivated skippers the confidence and incentive to invest in new purpose-built side trawlers – including Allegiance, Emulator, Independence, Our Heritage and Our Pride – to fish further offshore, before returning to Scarborough after 2-3 days to land their catches to the local market.
The close proximity of large inland industrial towns and cities, along with a constant influx of tourists to Scarborough and the adjoining coastal villages, eager to enjoy their traditional fish and chip suppers, ensured a consistently high level of buying power on Scarborough market.
Sadly, the situation today, when whitefish landings are probably 99% lower, is in marked contrast to that of 20 and 30 years ago, when supplies were abundant and sustained a large number of traditional Scarborough fishing families.
Today, a modern fleet of local potting boats, mainly under-10m vessels, built up in recent years by local skippers, together with seasonal visiting scallopers, account for most of the landing activity at Scarborough, where only two or three under-10m trawlers land a few boxes of fish in the early evening for sale the following morning.
In each Fishing News issue, we look back at certain times in commercial fishing history. Looking at a particular year – such as our looking back feature on 1977 – or a certain fishmarket, like our fishmarkets of yesteryear: Peterhead feature. Each week, we will bring you another nostalgic look at the industry complete with images from our extensive archives.