Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association


The Scottish Herring Producer’s Association Limited was founded on 9 February 1932. Within ten months of its formation the Association had no fewer than 3,128 individual members grouped in 13 branches based in ports from East Fife northwards to Lerwick, across the north coast of Scotland and west as far as Stornoway. The membership included fish salesmen, boat owners and share fishermen.

The Association came into being out of a deep and widespread crisis facing the herring industry. At the time there was need for more efficient organisation of the producing side of the industry. It was hoped that this one Association would take the place of the large number of separate Fishermen’s Associations throughout Scotland and give shape and direction to the common interests of those involved in the Scottish herring industry.

The first major initiative was to arrange a deal to export 100,000 barrels of cured herring to Russia, instantly stimulating prices in the domestic market. A minimum price scheme and proposals to initiate an advertising campaign to stimulate the home market soon followed. The Association also played an active role in the campaign to bring share fishermen under the Industrial Injuries and Health and Unemployment Scheme which was finally achieved in 1945.

Throughout the 1950’s the Association fought for government subsidies in order to assist the struggling herring producing sector and try to stem the drain of personnel from the industry, eventually meeting with some success. As the sixties progressed the Association tried to maintain support for the herring industry against a background of profound changes in innovations in technology and techniques and the changing national and international sphere of operations. A drop in earnings for herring producers led to many leaving the industry.

In 1973 the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation (SFO) was formed. It took responsibility for certain marketing responsibilities such as the withdrawal price scheme. Later that year the Association was prominent among the original six Associations, which formed the even more broadly based Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. In 1978 the Association’s name was changed to Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association Limited, reflecting members’ diversification into other pelagic fisheries, most notably mackerel which has since become the single most important species to the sector.

Although much reduced in terms of vessel numbers the Scottish pelagic fleet remains at the forefront of European pelagic fishing. The sectors main fisheries are NE Atlantic mackerel and horse mackerel, North Sea, West of Scotland and Atlanto-Scandian herring and blue whiting. The Association continues to represent the sector at national and international levels, having 26 member vessels attached to 3 branches located at Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Shetland.

Further information can be found at

The aim of the Association is to promote and protect the interests of the Scottish pelagic fishing fleet by:

  • Supporting the sustainable fishing of pelagic stocks
  • Maximising the fishing opportunities available to members
  • Ensuring that members are allowed to participate equitably in international fisheries
  • Placing strong emphasis on safety, training and quality

Key Contact

Ian GattChief Executive
135 – 139 Shore Street
AB43 9BP

Tel: (01346) 510714


Ian Gatt, chief Executive: Born 1961 in Banff, educated at Macduff Primary school and Banff Academy. Ian left school in 1977 to go to sea on the family fishing boat Orion. Participating first in the Isle of Man herring fishery and then fishing for sprats around the coast of Scotland and NE England. In 1979 Ian joined Sandy West’s Lorena; the working pattern of the vessel at that time involved fishing for mackerel both on the West Coast of Scotland and Cornwall.

Gaining his mates ticket when he was 20 and skipper’s ticket two years later, he then bought his first vessel the Allisanne in 1986. In 1991 Ian had a new vessel built at Macduff Shipyards named Solstice, she has since been replaced twice, both vessels being named Solstice and bearing the original registration number BF 56. On Ian’s mother’s side of the family, fishing has been a way of life for at least three generations. His grandfather John Watt had a herring drifter named Solstice. During the Second World War, Solstice was requisitioned to the war effort and John headed south to Whale Island, Portsmouth to train for a Lieutenant’s certificate. On the 10th March 1941 the barracks were bombed and John was killed; he was 34 years old and left a wife and two young children George and May (Ian’s mother). And so it is in memory of his grandfather that Ian has named his boats Solstice.

In 1998 Ian became a vice chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association (SWFPA), having served the association as a director for a number of years. The main role Ian undertook within SWFPA was to lead in policy matters relating to the West of Scotland and also Deep-Sea fisheries. Ian held that position until 2007 when he was elected the President of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

Office Bearer(s)

Alex WisemanChairman
David HutchisonVice Chairman