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town and fishing port, council area and historic county of Aberdeenshire. Peterhead is the most easterly town in Scotland. Founded in 1593, it developed as a port and functioned briefly as a fashionable 18th-century spa. By the early 19th century it had become the chief British whaling centre. Fishing for herring later assumed primary importance but declined in favour of whitefish to supply local fish-processing plants. It remains Britain's most important fishing port. Food processing and light engineering were the town's main industries until the 1970s, when exploitation of the North Sea oil fields boosted the town's economy. Pop. (2001) 17,947.