The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has paid tribute to Honorary President, Willie Hay CBE, who sadly passed away on Wednesday.
A former fisherman, Willie (84), was president of the SFF from 1982 to 1993 - a crucial time for fishing where his steady leadership and ever-present humour helped steer the industry through a particularly turbulent period, including the reform of the CFP.
From Portsoy, Willie first went to sea aged only 15 in 1943 working on a fishing vessel in the Firth of Clyde that was involved in aiding the war effort, including ferrying troops and sailors to their warships.
After the war he was a deckhand working on fishing vessels and in 1956 he bought his first boat, the Golden Eagle, which fished out of Buckie and Aberdeen.
Several years later Willie replaced this vessel with the fishing boat, Lode Star. In 1967 he had a new vessel built, the Illustrious, which he fished with great success.
His interest in fishing politics came to a fore in 1975 when he was appointed chairman of the ‘blockade committee’ that was co-ordinating a series of blockades of Scottish ports demanding a unilateral 100 mile fishing limit for the UK.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “Willie was a true gentleman who believed passionately in protecting the interests of Scottish fishermen. He will be sadly missed.”
Bob Allan, who was chief executive of the SFF during the period that Willie was president said: “It was with great sadness that I learned that Willie had passed away.
“He had a big personality and was the type of man who once met you could never forget.
“He was a very effective leader who was equally at ease in large meetings with fishermen or holding top-level discussions with Government or European officials.
“He was held in huge respect by fishermen and Government ministers and the contribution he made to protecting the interests of the Scottish industry was quite simply immense.”
Willie Hay was awarded an MBE in 1983 and a CBE in 1986, in recognition of his services to the fishing industry.