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Brief History of the SPFA

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 23 member vessels attached to 3 branches located at Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Shetland.