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Sea Food

Fishing and the research work of the Scottish Fisheries Board

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This film shows the research work of the Scottish Fisheries Board. It was one of seven documentaries made for the 1938 Empire Exhibition by the Films of Scotland committee, under the supervision of John Grierson. The film shows a vessel being made, a seine net being used and the busy scenes on the quayside as catch is landed, boxed, salted and packed. Barrels of herring are piled up awaiting export. We are shown the manufacture of barrels in the cooperage and barrels of salted herring are loaded onto cargo vessel "Rask Haugesund". Racks of herring are hung in smoking sheds and women bait nets with mussels for line fishing. Other sea food featured in the film includes lobster, salmon and skate. In Aberdeen harbour, a wide variety of fish is laid out for buyers, then sold at auction, packed and despatched. On board the research ship "Explorer" a range of experiments take place. We are shown data collection, samples of marine life and laboratory testing. Flat fish is marked and returned to the sea for tracking. Laboratory tests take place on herring, whose vertebrae are counted, and men consult a chart to check the age of haddock.

Questions & Activities


  • Note down and discuss all the different jobs you are shown. Which one would you enjoy the most?
  • How do all the jobs depend on one another?
  • Is the action natural or staged? How do we know?


Cover the screen (or close your eyes) and listen to the soundtrack. Discuss the voice and role of the narrator.

Turn your class into a mini fishing industry. Choose a job to act out and interact with the other workers.

Design or film an advertisement for one of the jobs.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-008-023-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 1060
Date 1938
Genre Documentary
School Subject Mathematics, Sciences, Technologies
Subject Matter Literacy
Who Empire ExhibitionFilms of Scotland (Sponsor), Pathe (Production company), Scottish Fisheries Board
Where Aberdeen
Event Empire Exhibition, Fishing, Science
Clip Length 11:27
Film Length 11.27