Wednesday, 23 February 2011



Did the Media come to Eyemouth harbour?
Did folks speak up to wish you well?
As you sailed into that cold grey fog
Did more than gulls cry out farewell?

Who witnessed the end of Fisherrow’s fishing
Fairnie fishermen for three hundred years
Yet but a diary marked the end of an era

- “Margarets and Nova Spero
Sold and Away”

© Shona McMillan
23 February 2011

My poem written today about the sale of the last two Fisherrow fishing boats which took place on 21.02.11. After the longest struggle, these family owned boats have finally been sold due to a combination of events including the rising cost of fuel and the restrictive legislation and quota system which is making it increasingly uneconomic to earn a living from fishing in Scotland.

Looking out to sea from Eyemouth, Shona McMillan ©

Operated from Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders, these boats were part of this once significant fleet which has seen drastic economic times reduce their numbers to under ten local boats - the Nova Spero and Margarets were both owned by the Fairnie family from Fisherrow, East Lothian. Myself from the Thorburn fishing family, my great-grandfather and granda' were both fishermen and former Harbour Masters of Fisherrow. As a child my granda' said that one day the boats would be gone from Fisherrow - their numbers did indeed diminish until by the late 70s there were none left. Yet, wanting to remain in fishing, fishermen like the Fairnie's continued to live at Fisherrow but operated their boats out of Eyemouth in the Borders or Fraserburgh in the North East. It is a heartfelt blow to see these boats go... And so sad that the celebrity fuelled Media have generally chosen to ignore stories about our fishing, our culture and tradition.

Rocks at entrance to Eyemouth Harbour, Shona McMillan ©

In 1881, a terrible storm hit the East Coast of Scotland and from Newhaven in Edinburgh, Fisherrow in East Lothian, Eyemouth and Burnmouth in the Scottish Borders, 189 men were drowned. The majority of those who lost their lives came from Eyemouth, jagged rocks at the Harbour mouth wrecking many of the boats trying to get in to safety. In time the tragedy became known as the Eyemouth Disaster. During the storm and for days after, people gathered at the harbour to see if more might make it home. Now in 2011, there is no storm but fishing is in decline as never before. And that the last Fisherrow boats are sold and quietly they slip away... it seemed to me such a sad ending. Yet, who would even know when the Media has REPEATEDLY chosen NOT to cover stories from the fishing because they do not deem them to be news worthy... (I do not agree).

Looking down on Eyemouth at sunset, Shona McMillan ©

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