Past, Present and Future of Pelagic Fishing in Shetland

Posted on Friday 14th October 2016
Da Lightsome Buoy

A large crowd turned out for the unveiling of Da Lightsome Buoy. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The sun shone on Da Lightsome Buoy as it was unveiled on the south end of the Esplanade in Lerwick this morning.

The bronze sculpture, created by artist Jo Chapman to celebrate the pelagic industry, elicited universal approval from the invited guests who saw it for the first time.

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Callum Irvine (left), the youngest pelagic fisherman from the Zephyr, and retired herring gutter Rosabelle Halcrow get ready to unveil the sculpture. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Engraved with images of fisherfolk and studded with quotes from the community, the huge spherical structure proved irresistibly tactile and created a lightsome feel.

The sculpture was commissioned to convey the continuity of the pelagic industry, the hardworking past, present and hopefully bright future, mirrored by the old Swan and modern Adenia dressed overall in the harbour.

The project stemmed from an idea of Shetland Catch chairman John Goodlad, who was also the chairman of the partnership project. He gave the event’s opening speech, recalling the proud history of the industry over the last 200 years and its heyday in the early 20th century.

In 1905, Mr Goodlad said, 113,000 tonnes of herring was landed in Shetland, a record which still stands. There were 100 curing stations in the isles creating work for thousands of people.
Sail gave way to steam and later the modern industry, with one of the most modern pelagic fleets in the world.

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Some of the detail on the sculpture. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Chief executive of Lerwick Port Authority Sandra Laurenson praised the “tremendous creativity” of Ms Chapman’s work, and the partnership with made it possible.

Guests of honour were young pelagic fisherman Callum Irvine, a deckhand on the Whalsay trawler Zephyr, who said he was “surprised and honoured” to be asked to the unveiling, and former gutting girl Rosabelle Halcrow.

Mrs Halcrow said: “I’m the oldest one [gutting girl] left in Burra. A crowd of us would work in Lerwick and Lowestoft. We didn’t worry about the work, the camaraderie and company were good, it was cheery work.”

She too had been honoured to be asked. The sculpture was dedicated by Aubrey Jamieson, who described the finished article as “stunning”.

The whole project was co-ordinated by Clair Aldington, who said she was delighted with the end result: “It’s been part of my life for the last six years since the idea first came from John Goodlad.”

Ms Chapman said she was “relieved” her work was finished and was so well received. Making it, she said, had been a “fantastic opportunity” and she had had a “wonderful time” in Shetland.

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Artist Jo Chapman with her impressive design.