Sources of Information

The charts which can be selected from this menu are based on the Annual Reports of the Fishery Board. From 1810 to 1851 only basic results were kept. There followed a long period in which fairly comprehensive results were maintained in the same way - from 1852 till 1912. By 1912 the logistics of exporting herring to the continent had changed in such a way that it was probably no longer very meaningful to report the export from individual districts, since large quantities were being exported via Leith (as can also be seen in the results for some of the preceding years). Although the reason for the change is not clear, from 1913 onwards,the district statistics were no longer maintained. Another complication is that in the 1920s Orkney and Shetland were grouped together, so the individual statistics are not available for these years.

One problem which arises in using old statistics in this way is that little compromises were made in drawing up the results for particular years. This particularly impacts on the results for Scandinavian countries, which tended to be grouped together on an ad-hoc basis. The problem also impacts on the curing data, in which different categories were used at different times. The results shown in the tables reflect the original data.

Although the print quality of some of the annual reports was difficult to interpret, the layout of the data simplified the task. The results were essentially 'Victorian spreadsheets' with cross-totals which proved very useful for checking, especially when the printed results were not very clear. The statistics in the annual reports were quite wide-ranging and comprehensive, but the task of transferring the results was understandably laborious, and for this reason only four of the sets of results have so-far been transferred. These can also be downloaded from here: download export statistics, download peak employment statistics, download curing statistics, or download losses.As a guide to understanding the data, I have also added a spreadsheet giving details of the fishery districts, taken from the 1890 Annual Report. It should be noted that as from 1892, Barra became a separate district.

Chart Details

The Export and Production chart provides overall production statistics from 1810 onwards. From 1851 to 1912 it also provides production and export statistics for all districts,and detailed export statistics for districts and destinations on the continent.

The Compare Export chart provides a means for comparing export statistics for countries, regions, districts and destinations. Since this website is primarily focused on the years before the First World War the country and place names reflect the prewar convention, although some statistics continue till 1938. The one obvious anomaly is Gdynia, which was constructed in the 1920s. For the sake of comparison with pre-war results it has been treated the in the same way as Danzig and included in the German Empire.

The Compare Curing chart provides access to the curing statistics.

The Annual Overview provides an overview of exports for a single year, while the Annual Results chart provides a treemap of the same results. By default the results are shown on two levels. The second level is reached by clicking on the appropriate part of the chart. The colour scheme visually displays the change from the previous year, with green denoting an increase, and red denoting a decrease. In order to support this feature, the first year to be displayed is 1852,not 1851.

The Employment chart is based on the "Maximum Local Activity in Herring Fishing" results which were published in detail from 1857 to 1938, with a gap from 1914 till 1920. They were gathered in each district during its week of greatest activity. Statistics for coopers were only gathered from 1893 and those for boat types were added in 1920. These results show that for some ports there were big changes from one year's statistics to the next. The crew results show the average crew per boat. It is interesting to note that while these results tended to increase with the passage of time, they also varied significantly between ports.

The Losses chart is based on the casualties return, which was published between 1884 and 1914. It was not resumed after the First World War. It provides an opportunity to identify extreme events, such as the storm of the 18th of June 1890 (John o' Groat Journal - Tuesday 01 July 1890) which might otherwise be forgotten.

The Production chart is based on the creek tables, and provides the most detailed and specific information which was gathered and published by the Fishery Board. It provides information about the number and size of all the fishing boats in Scotland, and where they were based. It also provides information about the numbers of fishermen employed, the quantity and value of the fish landed, and the number of curing stations. The statistics can also be downloaded. In some cases, the original documents grouped the results from several places together. This sometimes makes it difficult to interpret the results. In the many cases where the landings were grouped together, these results are not shown on the charts. It is also worth noting that the statistics for first class boats were not broken into sub-categories until 1894.

The Creeks chart is based on Appendix D No. VII in the Annual Report for 1890.