© Don McAllester
Commercial Salmon Netting in Ardnamurchan
This website hopes to record, in as much detail as possible the now lost occupation and life of commercial salmon netting in Ardnamurchan in the 1970s and 1980s
© Kate Campbell
OB226 “Iolair “at sea off Fascadale with the islands of Muck and Rhum behind
Ardnamurchan is an isolated and remote peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Ardnamurchan Point is the most westerly tip of the UK mainland.
The industry, in its organised way lasted from around 1855 to 2015.
The right to take “migratory fish”; salmon and sea trout has been a right reserved to the Scottish Crown since early medieval times. Salmon were plentiful and the rights to catch them were very valuable. From time to time these rights were transferred to landowners. Today the Scottish coastline still has “Crown Fishings” and “Private Fishings”. These rights are currently worthless as commercial netting has been banned by the government
© Lorna Taylor
A 15lb fish and a 25lb fish in the zinc bath at Fascadale
The salmon fishings around Ardnamurchan have long been private fishings with the rights owned by the Ardnamurchan Estate. In the late 1940’s the then owner of the estate, Lord Trent, who had owned Boots the Chemist, gave his tenants the right to buy the properties they had rented from the estate. The then tenants of the Ardnamurchan Fishings, the Powrie family took advantage of this offer and so in 1949 bought the rights and the properties associated with the fishings. The fishings have changed hands twice since the Powries but are now owned by the Ardnamurchan Estate again.
The Salmon Fishings around the coasts of Ardnamurchan are known as the Fascadale Fishings as Fascadale was the base. The ice house, the proprietor’s house, the boat sheds were all at Fascadale. You can read more about Fascadale here
The extent of the these fishings, from Kentra Bay, along the north coast, round the Point, along past Kilchoan and into Loch Sunart past Laga meant that it was impossible to fish the whole coast from one place. Seasonal “stations” were established around Ardnamurchan. Each of these stations had a bothy to house the crew, a net green to hang, dry and mend the nets, a store shed and a safe place to keep the boat.
The seasonal stations were at Gorteneorn, Ockle and Kilchoan. You can read more about these places here
In the days before the boats were given engines they would have had a crew of four or six men and even with engines, a crew of four. With four boats at sea the salmon fishing was a big seasonal employer and a significant part of the rural economy
© Kate Campbell
Fascadale 1977 or 78, with nets hanging between the ‘dock poles’, a coble at the top of the beach, net anchors and the bothy in the background