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Pittenweem Harbour, the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland  
Pittenweem Harbour

Pittenweem Harbour

Pittenweem Harbour was first recorded as a port in the year 1228 and the heyday of the fishing industry was during the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the last century.

John Watt’s song 'Pittenweem Jo' harks back to this golden age of Pittenweem Harbour.
Herring girls, Pittenweem
I’m goin’ wi’ a lassie fae Pittenweem,
She’s every fisher laddie’s dream,
She guts the herrin’ doon by the quay,
And saves her kisses just for me


During the Pittenweem Arts Festival the town receives a visit from the Reaper, a 100 year old herring drifter restored and maintained by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.

Reaper right alongside 20 East Shore, Pittenweem  

As a child on holiday in the East Neuk in the sixties, my recollection of the fishmarket in Pittenweem is of a bustling exciting place with strange fishy smells and all manner of fish piled high in boxes and being auctioned to the highest bidder.

In 1994, with quite remarkable prescience, Fife Council, with EU funding, demolished the old fishmarket and built a brand spanking new state of the art fishmarket timed perfectly to coincide with the rapid decline in white fish landings.

Today, Pittenweem is a shellfish port and the main landing port and market in the East Neuk. The target species are nephrops norvegicus, (also known as Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, langoustine or prawn as it’s more commonly known), lobster and crab and more recently surf clams. Some fish is also landed but mainly as a by-catch. Tonnage of fish landed in Pittenweem has halved to less than 800 tons in the last 5 years.

The FMA (Fishermens Mutual Association) operates the market and sells the catch, most of which is carried off by David Gerrard’s fleet of refrigerated lorries for export to France, Spain and Holland.

During the low season for prawns (April and May), many of the boats sail south and fish off the Northumberland coast and land their catch in Shields and in recent years during high summer virtually the entire fleet can disappear for weeks on end to fish the west coast and Firth of Clyde.

Prawn boats

While most of the vessels you see in Pittenweem Harbour are capable of going after fish, due to the scarcity of white fish in local waters, they are now fishing for prawns and you will discover a variety of types of boat from large traditional wood-built 55 footers such as KY97 Ocean Herald III and KY374 Launch Out (both incidentally built at Millers shipyard in St Monans in the 60s) to modern state of the art boats with a solid shelter deck such as KY202 St Adrian II and KY239 Venture Again III.

KY97 Ocean Herald in the harbour, Pittenweem   KY374 Launch Out in the harbour, Pittenweem

KY202 St Adrian II in the harbour, Pittenweem   KY239 Venture Again in the harbour, Pittenweem

Creel boats

Most lobster fishing in the East Neuk is based out of Crail and St Andrews, however several operate out of Pittenweem including KY 455 Comely III, LH528 Tranquillity and the modern fast creel boat KY1006 Lea-Rig IV.

KY1006 Lea Rig IV in the harbour, Pittenweem   KY455 Comely III in the harbour, Pittenweem

Surf Clam boats

This is the target catch for KY1007 Auriga and CF46 KG

KY1007 Auriga, in the harbour, Pittenweem   CF46 KG in the harbour, Pittenweem

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