8th January '24

Adam Robertson

"I'm excited to see what the future holds, I hope the fishing does get better."

Location: Fraserburgh

Job: Skipper, shellfish vessel

Adam didn't initially envision following his family's century-spanning fishing tradition. As a teen, he dreamed of becoming a carpenter instead. But observing his older brother Paul's early success at sea and eager to match his good living, Adam joined the family business after finishing school 16 years ago. Now a co-owner and skipper of the trawler Zenith alongside Paul and their father Mark, he hasn't looked back.

"It's just a thrill hunt," Adam explains of commercial fishing's unpredictable, adrenaline-fueled allure. "You go out and you don't know what you're going to catch." He still recalls with pride catching an impressively abundant, high-value haul on his first nerve-racking outing as skipper a decade ago.

Hailing from the Scottish fishing village of Gardenstown, Adam represents the fourth generation of his family to commercially fish, following his father, grandfathers and even great-grandfather's seafaring footsteps. This lineage endows intimate knowledge of weather patterns, seabed topography and fish migrations - what spots produce under shifting conditions.

In recent years, Adam has observed monumental change in the industry. Ever-tightening quotas increasingly restrict where boats can viably and profitably operate. He worries drastic catch limits dictated by "people behind the desk" fail to match on-water realities, making turning a profit a daily battle. Some days the choice boils down to losing money at sea or staying tied up at the dock.

Yet Adam remains "excited to see what the future holds" in fisheries, hoping stocks continue to rebound. He views sweeping proposed closures with scepticism, believing sea beds need regular trawling to churn nutrients and feed aquatic life.

While lamenting the faded prominence of fishing in villages like Gardenstown, Adam takes immense pride helping sustain a centuries-old livelihood and cherished family tradition. "It's just in the blood," he says. Through weathering challenges both at sea and onshore, Adam's dedication to his craft persists, undaunted by the unknown ahead.

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