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Caller Herrin’ was made to illustrate fishing practices and modern processes for preserving fish products, which were still a vital product for the British economy in the 1940s. It was one of over 50 films on Scottish subjects sponsored by the Central Office of Information in the immediate postwar years.
The film is a fairly conventional treatment of its subject, tracing the journey from port to the fishing grounds and the return, but adds much more about the onward processing of the fish using modern freezing techniques as well as more traditional kippering.
The commentary adds much information about the economics of the trade and the preservation of the fisherman’s income by guaranteed quotas. It’s possible that this system, more than any other, led to the serious over-fishing of the North Sea. Previously, we’re told, a large catch would merely suppress the price when it was auctioned on the quay.
There are informative scenes about the substantial investments in equipment needed to set up as a trawler (nets at £1,000 a set).