The British Fishery Society built Wick harbour in 1808. By 1818 there were 822 boats prosecuting the herring fishing from Wick. The fishing peaked around 1860 when records show that 1100 vessels were engaged in the summer herring fishing season.
Men and women came from across the Highlands and from the Western Isles to crew the boats and to work in the herring curing yards. The women worked in crews of three - two gutters and one packer. The cured herring were shipped in barrels mainly to the ports of Europe and the Baltic countries. Wick became the premier herring port in Britain producing one fifth of the country's landings. The herring shoals became scarce in the 1930's and the fishermen began to turn to the emerging seine net fishing for white fish as it offered more permanent employment. The final years of the town's association with the herring industry were a short period after World War Two.
The Wick Heritage Museum has extensive displays of herring-related activity including coopering, kippering, fishing and trading.