Fishing stalwart retires after almost 50 years in industry

SFA chairman Leslie Tait (right) in discussion with Scottish fisheries minister Fergus Ewing in February of this year. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

Tributes have been paid to Leslie Tait MBE who has retired from his post as lecturer in navigation and seamanship at the NAFC Marine Centre, in Scalloway.


Tait joined the NAFC in 2002 after 34 years as a commercial fisherman, the last 19 as skipper of the seiner netter Harmony (LK 63).

NAFC section leader for fisheries, Mark Fullerton, said the extensive knowledge and experience he had gained as a fisherman made him ideally suited to help train new generations of fishermen and other seafarers.


“He has been able to cover a wide range of subjects from teaching theory in a classroom to practical boat handling and navigation at sea,” he said.

“His patience and a pleasant attitude in the class have led to him being a very respected member of staff at the NAFC.”

One Tait’s former students, Ian Shearer, skipper of the local whitefish fishing boat Courageous (and winner of the Fishing News Young Fisherman of the Year award in 2016), added: “Leslie was a big help to us from the courses he taught to all the experience and advice he passed on right from when we started out as trainees. He will be a big miss.”

Leslie said he will spend more time going out with his own boat. Photo: NAFC

The 65-year old has also helped to operate NAFC’s research and survey vessels, contributes to many of its fisheries research projects, and has played a key role in liaising between the college and the fishing industry.

For the last eight years he has served as chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, and for eight years before that as chairman of the Shetland Fish Producer’s Organisation. In 2016 he was warded an MBE for his services to the fishing industry.

He said he had enjoyed working at NAFC and being able to pass on his knowledge and experience to new generations of fishermen.

“Working with these fishermen, both as new-entrants and as they progress to their skipper’s tickets, gives me great confidence in the future of the fishing industry in Shetland.”

He will continue serving as the chairman of the local fishermen’s association.