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Sea Fish and Shellfish


Communities along the coast of Northumberland and Berwickshire have always depended on the sea for their livelihood and fishing is still an important element of the local economy.

Historically the catch varied according to the seasons. During the summer, the main fishing effort was for herrings, which the fishermen called the “silver darlings”. In the winter and spring, the fishermen turned to catching crabs and white fish such as cod, haddock and whiting.

North Sea white fish stocks have declined in recent decades and, apart from some trawlers working out of Amble and Eyemouth, most local boats now concentrate on crabs and lobsters.

Fishing communities such as Beadnell, Boulmer, Holy Island and Newton grew up around sheltered havens where boats could be launched directly from the beaches. What we now regard as typical fishing harbours were built to serve industries such as the lime-kilns at Beadnell, Holy Island and Seahouses, or the stone-quarries at Craster.

In the late 18th century, many landowners built groups of new fishermen's cottages, often known as the “seahouses”. At North Sunderland, these gave the name to an entirely new village community.

Berwick's sea-fishing community was located at the Greenses where, in 1848, 45 boats worked out of Meadow Haven. In the same year Spittal, on the south side of the Tweed, had 30 boats.

Extracts from contemporary newspapers about sea-fishing in Victorian times