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World War Two

The Herring Industry Board

The HIB was set up in 1935 to arrest the decline and promote the development of the UK trade in herring. It was merged with the White Fish Authority in 1981 to form the Seafish Industry Authority.

Judging by its own figures (Lecture Notes on the Herring), the Board's early impact was modest.


Average Annual Weight Landed in Cwts.

Average Annual Value in £

1911 - 1913
1925 - 1930
1931 - 1935



In Scotland on April 2nd 1937, the Catholic Herald was less generous in its verdict.

Two years ago the Government set up a Herring Industry Board, but so far it has achieved practically nothing, in spite of its wide powers for reorganisation, development, and regulation of the industry.

Fishermen have waited with heroic patience for something to be done. They are now getting desperate. One of the chief obstacles is the difference of opinion between the fishermen and the fish curers, both of whom have to be considered by the Board.

Last week the Board produced a scheme for reconditioning the existing fleet, and building new boats by means of loans granted to the fishermen. It has been received with outspoken criticism from all sections of the herring industry, and in the opinion of the Provost of Portknockie, Banffshire, the fishermen on the east coast of Scotland are now drifting towards the greatest crisis in their history.

In the opinion of the Board the days of private ownership are over, and capitalism is the only means of salvation; in other words, the herring fisheries must be taken over by big companies, as is the case in England.

The Scottish Herring Producers Association assert that it would be an amazing injustice for Scottish owners to be denied loans for new craft simply because their system of individual ownership does not find favour with the Board. They flatly deny that " family boats do not pay," and produce figures which seem to prove their case. They claim, also, that the English companies are actually more heavily in debt than the fishermen-owners in Scotland, even if the former gross more money.

It is hoped that the Scottish M.P.s will be able to have the whole question investigated and that legislation will be passed by the Government before it is too late to enable Scottish fishermen to retain their independence.

It should be pointed out that in almost every other European country today, with the exception of Great Britain, the fisheries are heavily subsidised by the Government.

Not long after its establishment, upon the onset of the war, most of the powers of the HIB were suspended.

Newspaper, December 12th 1939


The following booklets produced by the HIB can be downloaded as .pdf:

In Search of Silver Treasure - Cooking and eating herring

The Herring Book - Scores of simple recipes

Lecture Notes on the Herring - A history of herring fishing

A Craster Panorama

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