Menu Close

Technological innovation 1950s-1960s

Radar and echo-location was introduced to the fleet, improving safety at sea and the fish catching process. There were many advancements in terms of boats, gear and equipment, increasing efficiencies and allowing vessels to fish further afield.

Radio Telephone

Fishermen could now keep in touch with other boats, onshore services, and their families at home.

Echo Sounder/Sonar

This has been used in the war to help with navigation, it now gave fishermen ‘eyes’ under the sea allowing them to follow shoals of fish as well as locating the bottom of the seabed.

Decca Navigator

Developed during the war, this great navigational aid was the forerunner of the modern GPS plotter. It allowed men to work safely into the night – increasing their time at sea.


In the 1960s, hydraulics were introduced to Shetland vessels, which had a huge impact on purse nets. The power reel was introduced, which was a mechanised pulley that hauled in the ropes on seine netters, the power winch hauled in the wire on trawlers, while the power block hauled in the nets. Larger nets could now be used with fewer men. Purse nets could be big enough to cover three football pitches.

Synthetic Fibres

More and more synthetic fibres for ropes and nets were introduced in the 1960s. Despite the increase in cost, the fishermen soon realised that it was more economical to work with these more durable and lighter materials.

Mechanisation of fish processing

In the 1950s fish gutting machines were introduced.  The traditional role of processing no longer took place on a beach or warehouse, but instead in a mechanised factory.