Specialists from Wessex Archaeology are currently undertaking a suite of Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther in Fife. The project has been made possible through funding from the Coastal Communities Fund and this exciting opportunity will look at the boat collection as a whole, in addition to specific CMPs for a number of vessels, to assist the museum in the development of robust management arrangements for the long term, sustainable future of the collection.
With such a valuable boat collection, the museum identified the need for the development of CMPs for three of the larger vessels; the Fifie Reaper and Zulu Research, both examples of 1st Class sailing herring drifters, which represent significant survivors of the once prolific Scottish herring fishing fleet. In addition the smaller Fifie herring fishing vessel White Wing, also known as a ‘Baldie’ will also be included as an exemplar of the smaller vessels operating in the fishery. All three vessels are registered with the National Historic Fleet and are recognised as rare examples of vessels operating within the Scottish fishing fleet from the early 20th century. The CMPs will aim to identify the specific needs and management considerations of each vessel, both as operational vessels, and in the case of the Zulu Research, an archaeological artefact on permanent display undercover in the museum.
In addition to the larger vessels, at least two of the smaller boats in the collection will also be investigated including the Montrose Salmon Coble Jubilee, and a Tay Salmon Coble. The latter is particularly significant as an example of a unique adaptation of the standard rowing coble, known as a ‘Bermondey Boat’ developed for use during salmon netting on the exposed sand banks located in the Tay Estuary. The vessels together provide an important vernacular theme based around the understanding of small craft used in the Scottish east coast salmon fishery.
The team will be undertaking a variety of tasks in the development of the CMPs over the coming months and will be working closely with the Museum and the Coastal Communities Project Manager in the development of the plans and assisting with opportunities to disseminate the work in conjunction with upcoming community engagement opportunities. The first of these comprised an event hosted by the museum as part of the Scottish Archaeology & Heritage Festival in September. The event , ‘Different Generations of Boat Builders but the same old boats’ allowed members of the public to visit the working boatyard in the museum to experience the work of wooden boat builders through materials, tools, and techniques; including insights through pictures into the old boatyards of Fife and the people who worked in them. 
To see what is happening at the Scottish Fisheries Museum see www.scotfishmuseum.org