Selkirk: Venue s2 Border Cloth, High Street

Border Cloth our black-out venue is where artist Catriona Taylor and poet Stuart Delves have installed their beautiful, thought provoking projected work, Sea Change.

Sea Change 2

A still from Catriona Taylor’s film of the projection, 2013

The continuation of the Scottish fishing industry has been a theme that Catriona first explored as a painting student at Edinburgh College of Art in 2002. Obviously the situation has moved on since then and being selected to be part of the Casting the Net project was a great opportunity to revisit Eyemouth and gauge the current situation.

Sea change1

Sea Change3

Sea Change5

Stills from Catriona Taylor’s film of the projection, 2013

Catriona and writer Stuart Delves have taken a research based approach to the work; they interviewed two fishermen in Eyemouth who were generous enough to share lots of facts and their feelings about fishing – historically and currently. They have also read government documents and researched the environmental impact of over fishing.  It has been a fascinating process.

They decided to create an installation, which has a large water tank at its core, reminiscent of the large fish tanks in the Fisheries Mutual Agency at Eyemouth. The tank is empty to reflect the demise of the fishing industry in Scotland, an industry that has been relentlessly cut until there are only a handful of fishing boats in Eyemouth harbour.  It also represents the over fishing that has undeniably caused the stocks of many fish species in the North Sea to diminish.

The words written in a haiku form (a three line verse) are projected on the empty water as an attempt to convey an understanding of the multi faceted situation in a non partisan way. The poignancy of words are counter pointed by the healing, all pervasive sound of the sea.

We have been asked by a couple of people who have viewed Catriona Taylor and Stuart Delves projection piece if we could post the complete poem in Haiku on the demise of Eyemouth’s fishing industry from start to finish, so please find a copy below to read and reflect on:



Haiku on the demise of Eyemouth’s fishing industry


Once upon a time

Fifty boats in Eyemouth harbour

Now it’s single figures


There was industry ashore

Packing, gutting, barrel making

Now it’s all but gone


Then skipper/owners

Were the order of the day

Sons followed suit



Fleets followed herring

By March ten thousand men and women

Had decamped to Shetland



Those were the good days

When you could walk across the Forth

Head to toe with sprat



By the early 60s

Buyers had imposed quotas:

It started with sprat


For sprat and white fish

There was eight pence a stone

Government subsidy



The buyers were kings

Setting skipper against skipper

Kin against kin



The sea was a field

For those who wade in their dreams

To find its secrets



1974, Ted Heath

‘Sells’ the fishing industry:

Welcome CFP


The European Union’s

Common Fishing Policy.

Not good for Scotland


Which has 8.6%

Of the UK’s population

But lands 62%


Of total fish catch

By value; the industry employs

1% of the population


Politicians say

“Cinderella Industry”

When talking of us


Brussels divvies up:

Fish for the French and Spanish

Banking for UK


The policy has failed

To conserve white fish stocks:

Cod and haddock



Restrictions, hard, yes

But greed’s the deeper wrecker:

‘Fill yer boots’ the cry.


The skill of ring and

Drift net swept aside by trawlers

Churning up sea beds


Landing by the ton

Catch and by-catch indiscriminate:

Discard dead and maimed


Corrugatinging the beds

Where fish spawn and sand eels breed

Sprouting thick as grass



Sand eels are fish food

But trawled by the Danes at Dogger

Mulched for bacon pigs


Boats have been seen queuing

At Dogger Bank, to take their

Turn to turn the blade in



Silver ghosted gills

Glimmer in the reveries

Of housebound skippers


There’s expense as well

£6K a tank of red diesel

£180K a new boat



Sons gone to the rigs

Oil money, not haul money:

Boys away, nae visitors


Now there’s a new quota

Nineteen days a month at sea, max:

That doesn’t make ends meet


E-log satellite!

Like trying to drive a car

While watching TV


Red tape, policy

Quotas, skewed fishing rights

The whole caboodle


But then there’s shellfish

More lobster now than for ages

Crabs, prawns, langoustines


Weep not for white fish

Prawn nets burrow into mud

Crustacean silver


Keeping prawns live for

Mercamadrid, Boqueria

More money, less catch


It’s not as it was

Though, ice plant’s gone, market too

Masts few, far between










The industry slashed

By 70% since 2003

Can’t take any more cuts


December’s quotas

A glimmer of hope at last

For Scotland, Eyemouth


Prawns raised by 18 %

West Coast herring by 20%

Haddock from 47% to 30%



On blustery days

Washing like sails at the backs

Bringing it all home



Sea Change, 2013:  Concept & visuals by Catriona Taylor, words by Stuart Delves


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s