Intermediation, opportunism and the state loans debate in Scotland’s inshore fisheries before World War I

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Abstract

While deep-sea trawling dominated in England and Wales, the Scots specialized in the inshore fisheries, particularly for herring. Described as a leading fishery of the age. its importance was demonstrated through the rapid growth in landings and exports. Technological change, embodied in steam-powered fishing vessels (drifters) initiated a boom from the late nineteenth century until World War L Unlike the trawl fisheries, Scottish inshore fishermen nominally retained ownership and control of their vessels despite rising investment costs. Yet steam drifters were only affordable by extending ownership to non-fishing interests. This initiated widespread concern that "capitalists" exploited fishermen's indebtedness to increase their earnings. Calls for state loans to buy out capitalists initiated an inquiry by the Scottish Department (the Sutherland Committee), which ultimately decided against intervention. This essay investigates the relations at the heart of the state loans debate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Maritime History
Volume16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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