Saturday, 30 June 2012

Creel Fishing around the Scottish Coast

Every once in a while I like to skim back through my photo archives, looking for those images that I might have passed over or simply missed the first time around, to look at them again and to see if I can make anything out of them with a little bit of extra work.

Fishing boats moored up in the harbour at Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)

Last week I was reminded about a project I worked on during the summer of 2010 in which myself and a larger consortium examined the feasibility of different methods for monitoring inshore fish populations around Scottish coastal waters. Since I had a fair amount of experience of working with the fishing industry and conducting observer work by that point, I was asked to investigate the levels of fish bycatch that were being captured by the Scottish inshore creel (trap) fishermen, which ultimately ended up with myself and two of my colleagues (PhD student Kathy Dunlop and an undergraduate student Marie Fenton) embarking on a ten-day trip around virtually the entire Scottish coast, driving from Glasgow to Campbeltown, up to Skye (where we attemtped to camp for 3 days in a storm) then north to the north-east coast and up to the Orkney Isles, going out to sea with any fishermen who would allow us to observe them for a day and handing out questionnaires. It was slightly crazy, but a lot of fun!

A catch of brown crabs and the creels that caught them. The blue escape panels allow most of the undersize animals to leave the creels before they're hauled onto the boat.

Anyway, the results of that pilot study are available in the full report (freely available online here) if you're interested in the science that came out of the trial, but what I would like to share with you here are some of the photographs from that trip, with the emphasis very much on the fishermen and the catches rather than wildlife for a change! I usually tend to ignore photos that aren't strictly wildlife or animal-based when I do my first-pass edits so a lot of the more 'documentary' style shots get ignored, and this trip just happened to come at a chaotic period between finishing one job and starting a PhD so I've never really gone back to the photos again properly until now. When I went back through the images from this fishing trip I was really looking for images that stood out and told a story about the fishermen and their work rather than the wildlife and these are the best ones I think. I hope you enjoy them, and as always, I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on them, especially since this is not really an area of photography I've got much experience with!

NOTE: Some of the in-blog photos might look a bit odd because they've been resized automatically. To see the full-size versions (which are sharp) please click on the images.

Edible crabs and lobsters in a creel pot.

A fisherman working to empty and reset one of his langoustine creels


Lobsters boxed up and ready for sale to market. The pink bands stop them damaging each other with their claws.


Fishermen work quickly to empty and re-bait the creels so they can redeploy them for the next catch.

A fisherman working to empty and re-bait the creel.

A fisherman pulls a lobster out of one of his creels.

Fishermen working on their creels on a calm day in Orkney

A catch of lobster and brown crabs in a creel trap

Two fisherman working on their creels in the Small Isles (Eigg, Muck & Rhum)