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Off the coast of Aberdeen, a dozen oil supply ships sit idly, their crews waiting for word of work.

From their decks, the commodities that once made this Scottish city a centre of commerce are still visible - the grand granite buildings of Union Street, and the few remaining fisheries in a harbour dominated by fuel storage cylinders.

One of those is co-run by James Robertson. Founded in 1892 by James's ancestor, Joseph, the firm has been in family hands for four generations.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when the North Sea energy boom began to drive up costs for local businesses, and the Cod Wars led to restrictions on fishing quotas, Joseph Robertson Ltd had to adapt to survive.

"We used to fillet fish," Mr Robertson says, but limited expansion meant that soon became unprofitable.

"Now we process fish cakes and frozen breaded fish for some of the UK's largest supermarkets".

But it's the North Sea oil industry, which fuelled Aberdeen's economy for more than four decades, that is now facing a similar challenge - adapt or die.

 

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