Faces of Scotland’s fishing industry go on show

Detail of portrait of fisherman Derri Wilson by Paul Duke. PIC: Paul Duke.
Detail of portrait of fisherman Derri Wilson by Paul Duke. PIC: Paul Duke.
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The faces of Scotland’s fishing industry have gone on show in a new photo exhibition.

Photographer Paul Duke spent three years on-and-off in the harbours, gutting sheds and fish processors of the North East to produce his series At Sea.

Fish worker Tricia Wylie was among those captured by Paul Duke. PIC: Paul Duke.

Fish worker Tricia Wylie was among those captured by Paul Duke. PIC: Paul Duke.

He picked up his camera after getting to know the community between Fraserburgh and Macduff and found fear among its people of an industry in sharp decline.

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Mr Duke, who photographed more than 100 workers, said: “I really started to understand this idea of boats being decommissioned, of fish stocks running low, of an industry going through a really difficult time. I kind of sensed it was coming to a head.

“I got to know a few fishermen and I heard about the fear for the industry continuing.

Photographer Paul Duke worked for three years in north east fishing communities and wanted to celebrate a way of life. PIC: Paul Duke.

Photographer Paul Duke worked for three years in north east fishing communities and wanted to celebrate a way of life. PIC: Paul Duke.

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“The project was done over a three-year period so it was a slow process but doing it over that time, I got a clear picture of something unravelling.”

Mr Duke, who is from Edinburgh but lives in London, said it had been difficult winning the trust of the fishing community at first

He said: “I think in the beginning it was really troublesome to be trusted. I was walking into yards, the fish markets, asking if I can take photographs and the guys were reluctant in the beginning.

“I think though by just going back and being very civil, I ended up making progress. I ended up making two or three very good friends in the area. Being a close knit community, word gets out.

“It was pure joy in the end. People were up for what I was doing.

“I wanted to bring a dignity to a way of life. Some of the stories were really meaningful and touching. One or two people told be that their families had been involved with the fishing for generations but they had this fear that this was the end of the line.

“For them, fishing wasn’t just a livelihood. It was a cultural legacy, an identity.”

-Paul Duke: At Sea, A Conversation in Time, will be on show at Aberdeen Maritime Museum until April 28.