This song was written in the late 20th century by Archie Fisher, Scottish folk singer and songwriter. It was recorded on his album Windward Away and covered by groups including The Clancy Brothers, Gordon Bok, Mike James, David Coffin, and Archie Fisher's sister Cilla Fisher. Since the 1960s, communities all over the world have faced the collapse of fish populations due to overfishing. Bok's liner notes to The First Fifteen Years, Vol. I, explains the origins of this song:
Archie Fisher said he wrote this song after seeing a couple of perfectly good steel trawlers rusting away on the ledges (skerries) outside a harbor in northern Scotland, and was told by fishermen that they have been drove there by their owners because, even with the government subsidy to help the fishermen, the fishing was so poor they still couldn't make a living, and the men didn't want to see them cut into scrap by the ship-breakers.