Fish Fight’s honesty questioned

Friday, 01 March 2013 14:16

THE chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Bertie Armstrong, has issued a response to last night’s episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight, claiming that the programme “hoodwinked” the public.

According to Armstrong: “In the first episode of this current series we were shown metal contraptions being dragged by tractors across sandcastles on a Weston-Super-Mare beach as a crude illustration what trawling supposedly does to the seabed. Had the programme’s attractive sand sculpture been constructed beneath the high water mark the first tide would have done a much more comprehensive demolition job on it – the demonstration was literally farcical.

“But the starkest illustration of programme quality came from a British Antarctic Survey scientist, who was an unwitting contributor to the Fish Fight when it went to the southern ocean to look at the krill fishery. The fishery is damaging the ecosystem was the implication drawn by the programme. Well, no actually it isn’t. Cue Dr Ruth Brown from the British Antarctic Survey and her widely publicised letter to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall that was written after she saw how her area of expertise and the fishery were portrayed in the programme.

“In her letter she reports from a definitive scientific study the facts that the fishery takes a krill tonnage less than 0.5% of that taken by natural predators. In other words, it is insignificant and to stop it for conservation purposes – the programme’s implication – would be the equivalent to ordering cessation of paperclip use in the UK to avoid making the national debt any worse. I recommend that you read Dr Brown’s letter to see the full list of evasions and distortions, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s reply for the central explanation that: ‘It is important to keep the story telling of a TV documentary clear and simple’. I disagree. I think it is much more important for a TV documentary to have an honest narrative.”