remembering the fishing/ sgeul an iasgaich, applecross historical society (2015)

Location: Applecross and Loch Carron

The mermaid's mark

No fishermen wanted to see the ‘mermaid’s mark’, although it happened all too frequently for many. The mermaid was not a figure of superstition or an omen, but rather a symbol that indicated the hard-won catch had arrived at the markets of England in a condition that left it unfit to be sold. If a consignment of fish or shellfish had perished, a card came back from the seller with a mermaid pictured on it.

There was a suspicion that one or two fish merchants may have been taking advantage of the fishermen. Rather than pay a fair price for a fair catch, in the days when communication was tricky and getting proof of foul play was difficult, maybe a few catches sent south were fit for sale but the profits were siphoned off. More locally, catches went for sale in places like Kyle of Lochalsh,Mallaig and Gairloch, which helped to establish connections between all of those in the trade- on sea and on shore– which still exist today.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic most shellfish was exported to countries such as Spain. Within the last year, many local fishermen have resorted to selling their catch fresh from the pier on landing and local residents are enjoying many good fresh seafood meals.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.