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Thread: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: 'I want to dictate the taste of the nation'

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    he was on ITV News at half 1 this afternoon but not seen anything else up here Chris , guess the press are getting fed up of him as well

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Here's a beauty that just got deleted from HFF:
    Dear Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall,
    my name is Ruth Brown, you met me in February 2012 when you came to Bird Island, South Georgia, to film an episode of ‘Fish Fight’, and I appeared in this episode which aired on Thursday last week (21st Feb) on Channel 4. I am writing to protest about the unfair and unflattering light in which you portrayed me, and the glaring inaccuracies in information that you presented to viewers.

    In your program you implied that the research I do is paid for by licence money received from the krill fishing industry, and that I am therefore unable to speak freely about my opinions of that industry. This is not true. I work for British Antarctic Survey, who do not receive any money from fisheries and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, a government body that funds independent scientific research. British Antarctic Survey fund and manage all work that is carried out on Bird Island, yet were not mentioned once in your program.

    During your interview with me, I repeatedly told you that the data I collect on penguins and other seabird species is handed over to CCAMLR (the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), an international consortium that manage all fishing activities in the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR use this data to inform their decisions about fishing practices and to ensure that Southern Ocean fisheries are sustainable. I find it remarkable that in a program dedicated to fisheries in the Southern Ocean, you did not once mention CCAMLR, the international body that governs fisheries in the Southern Ocean.

    In your program you mentioned that penguin populations are declining, with the implication being that this is a result of competition with the krill fishery for their main prey food, krill. This is at best misleading. It is true that macaroni penguin populations at South Georgia are in decline, and I would direct your attention to a recent paper on the subject (Trathan et al 2012 ‘Ecological drivers of change at South Georgia’ Ecography 35 (11), 983-993), which discusses the possible causes of this decline. The authors conclude that the most likely reason for declining populations of macaroni penguins at South Georgia is an increase in the population of Antarctic fur seals, which also feed on krill. Indeed, fur seals have undergone a population explosion at South Georgia in recent years despite the presence of the krill fishery, a fact which was not mentioned in your program.

    In your program you asked me how much krill an individual penguin consumes in a single meal. The amount of krill consumed by animals in this ecosystem is an important point. The estimated total amount of krill consumed by macaroni penguins in a year is around 1.6 million tonnes, and the estimated total amount of krill consumed by Antarctic fur seals in a year is around 6.8 million tonnes (Trathan et al 2012). In contrast, the average annual krill catch by the South Georgia fishery is 43,500 tonnes (Trathan et al 2012), and is therefore insignificant compared with the amount of krill consumed by the animals. These figures were not mentioned in your program.

    Whilst you were on Bird Island, one of your production team (Lucy Meadows) told us that the krill boat on which you filmed experienced zero by-catch. In my opinion this is an astonishing and noteworthy fact, given the high levels of by-catch seen in other fisheries. However, this fact was not mentioned in your program.

    In your program you suggested that populations of great whales in the Southern Ocean have fully recovered following the end of commercial exploitation. This statement is misleading. Whilst some species of whales have recovered to pre-exploitation levels, others have not, and a very modest amount of research on your part would have shown you this (see, for example, Lotze et al 2011 ‘Recovery of marine animal populations and ecosystems’ Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26 (11), 595-605).

    In conclusion, the episode of ‘Fish Fight’ which covered fisheries on the Southern Ocean was poorly researched and misleading. Many important facts were left out, as they would clearly have compromised the pre-conceived journalistic slant of the program. You and your production company (KEO films) repeatedly ignored the research and opinions of scientists and conservationists who have spent decades studying the ecosystem around South Georgia, believing that you are better placed to comment on that ecosystem than they are.

    I am an enthusiastic supporter of campaigns for sustainable fishing in general, and of the ‘Fish Fight’ campaign in particular. It therefore saddens me that you have chosen to tarnish this noble cause with what can only be described as a tawdry piece of hack journalism. I am ashamed that I was a part of it, albeit unwittingly.

    Dr. Ruth Brown.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    The press release has a quote FROM HFW in it and its dated 27th February 2012 , 1 year ago and he's had plenty of time to edit the Krill boat footage along with the arrogant attack on the Science used and Ruth herself , just shows how much he is willing to LIE to the British public

    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
    Office of the Commissioner
    Government House,
    Falkland Islands.
    Tel: (500) 28214
    Facsimile: (500) 22811
    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Marine
    Protected Area

    The Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) today announced the establishment of a large sustainable use Marine Protected Area (MPA) covering over 1 million km2 of the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) Maritime Zone.

    As part of a long-term management and conservation strategy for the Territory, today’s announcement establishes in law one of the largest areas of sustainably managed ocean in the world. Nigel Haywood, Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,who formally signed the legislation , stated:
    “The waters around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are among the most productive in the Southern Ocean,
    with very high biodiversity . We remain committed to the highest standards of environmental management in this unique and globally important UK Overseas Territory. Whilst today’s MPA announcement represents a hugely significant step in our management of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, we will not rest on our laurels and will continually strive to improve our already excellent management of the Territory”

    Dr Martin Collins, Chief Executive of the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands said:
    “South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are remarkable places, supporting an amazing density of wildlife. Establishing the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands MPA is a key part of our long-term stewardship of the islands’


    “Our continued good management of this UK Overseas Territory demonstrates that, even in a place as special as South Georgia, you can have sustainable fisheries with minimum impact on the ecosystem.”
    “This announcement is the culmination of a considerable amount of work by GSGSSI staff,the FCO and scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and our fisheries consultants MRAG”
    Dr Phil Trathan, Head of Conservation Biology at the British Antarctic Survey , who advised the Government of South Georgia on the establishment of the MPA said:“South Georgia is a globally important island that deserves the strongest level of protection. I believe that this is a major step forward for conservation, not just at South Georgia, but also for the wider Antarctic. As a first step, it creates an important legal framework that will provide opportunities to enhance conservation and protection into the future.”

    David Attenborough, who recently presented the BBC’s Frozen Planet series , said : “I am delighted to hear of the decision by the Government to create one of the world's largest marine reserves, which will help protect the unique and precious wildlife of South Georgia and Antarctica. This is extremely timely given the dramatic change that the polar regions are currently undergoing”. The MPA declaration enshrines in law much of the existing marine protection policy, and creates one of the largest MPAs on the planet. Within the MPA all commercial bottom trawling will be prohibited and commercial bottom fishing (primarily longlining) will be restricted to depths greater than 700 m. The ban on bottom trawling protects the benthic marine environment from the damaging effects of bottom trawling, whilst the 700 m depth minima for bottom fishing protects juvenile toothfish.


    The MPA includes significant areas of no-take zone (IUCN Category I) around the coast of each island. These no-take zones (over 20,000 km2 in total , equivalent to the total area of Wales ) will protect the foraging grounds of many of the Territory’s land-based marine predators such as penguins,seals and seabirds and protect the spawning areas of many demersal fish species.

    Fisheries campaigner and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said:“Having just returned from a filming expedition to South Georgia, I welcome the new Marine Protected Area for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands as a vital step in protecting this extraordinarily abundant and diverse Southern Ocean marine habitat. And I know those who closely follow our Fish Fight campaign will welcome it too. As acknowledged by its creators, this MPA effectively enshrines in law the existing levels of protection and the current access to fishing in the seas around South Georgia.”

    Fearnley-Whittingstall added:“This is clearly a great step forward for marine conservation in the region, and the beginning
    of an outstanding opportunity. I count myself among the many conservationists and NGOs who would urge the South Georgia and UK governments to go further in the coming months. We would like to see the arbitrary 12-mile No Take Zone around South Georgia extended to include the entire continental shelf area and its margins, since this is a vital krill habitat and consequent feeding ground for the millions of krill-dependent fish, birds and mammals that inhabit South Georgia and its waters.Beyond that even, a fully fledged, no take Marine Reserve for the entire 200 mile zone surrounding these islands would set an outstanding global example of commitment to marine conservation. For many of us, that remains a visionary objective for this exceptional part of the ocean.”

    GSGSSI will continue to licence fisheries for toothfish, icefish and krill in the MPA (outside of the no-take zones) and use the revenue to patrol the region to prevent illegal fishing and undertake research and monitoring. These fisheries are extremely carefully managed, with both the icefish and toothfish fisheries certified as sustainably managed by the Marine Stewardship Council.


    A scientific workshop, to be held in Cambridge in April 2012, will consider the need for further spatial and temporal protection within the MPA. For further information please contact Dr Martin Collins, Chief Executive, Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
    Tel: +500 28214.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    The facts Hugh got wrong on his programme about fishing

    Published on Wednesday 20 February 2013 11:45

    I have just watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s TV programme, Fish Fight.

    Whilst I agree fundamentally with what he’s trying to do, I disagree with the way he’s going about it.

    He has a few ‘facts’ wrong.

    Firstly: The ground shown at the start of the show was a rocky area hardly likely ever to have been fished by scallopers.

    The second ground was flat and sandy, exactly the sort of place scallopers do fish.

    The flora and fauna on the first ground cannot grow on the second type of ground as most of the weed, coral and fern type animals require a rocky base for anchorage; they would not get a foothold on sand or gravel so cannot grow there.

    This means that this type of ground always looks barren. It isn’t barren by any means as it is full of worms, prawns, crabs, razor-shells and small flat fish and their various predators, most of which will bury themselves as soon as they perceive a threat, such as a couple of noisy divers who are looking for them.

    There is no way that the second ground would ever look like the first. That is like comparing a flat field to a rocky outcrop, totally different topology and therefore totally different ecology.

    Secondly; HFW infers that scallopers and beam trawlers do this type of damage to all the seas around the coast of Britain.

    This is not true as most scallop fisheries are very localised and make the most of flattish areas, not rocky coasts, which dominate the British coastline.

    Scallops do not occur everywhere and the Dover soles and Plaice caught by the beam trawls are migratory and move in and out of areas according to seasonal changes and their breeding cycles. So trawlers are A) not fishing in the same areas all the time and B) not fishing absolutely everywhere at any time.

    Thirdly; The circus side-show type ‘demonstration’ he performed at Weston Super-Mare was ridiculous and so unscientific as to be farcical.

    But it had the effect he wanted, shock and horror! What a pity he didn’t do something more realistic, still as shocking and horrific but more true to life.

    Like following a real set of scallop gear over some of the rocky terrain he wrongly claimed they fish on.

    To see the gear being smashed to pieces, tow-pipes bent in half and tooth blades ripped from the frames would hopefully let the public see just how hard it is to make a living from the sea in the first place without having an ill-informed, opinionated TV star trying to gain notoriety a la Jamie Oliver and his assault on school meals!

    Also; Much of the fishing happens well away from coastal areas in deeper waters where there is little light at depth and almost no flora at all, so corals and ferns do not grow there and all of the fauna is predatory upon other fauna which is unfortunate enough to be smaller.

    Shoals of fish will pass over these grounds on their way to feed or spawn but none stay there all year round.

    This results in large areas of the seabed having no fish at all. Many areas will only be populated by certain species at certain times as feeding and spawning grounds and they are dependent upon a supply of whatever that species of fish feeds on.

    Much of the phyto- and zoo-plankton at the bottom of the food-chain is affected by run-off from the land and is very susceptible to poisoning by agricultural pesticides and fertilisers and industrial contaminants, even hundreds of miles offshore. Even if this pollution doesn’t kill the fish directly, phosphate and nitrogenous fertilisers can cause plankton to ‘bloom’ in massive clouds which clog the gills of fish and kill them that way.

    Furthermore: Much of the damage done to a ground recovers fairly quickly.

    His estimate of 100 years is true for some of the wildlife such as coral but not for most of the things that live in the sea. I have seen a fairly barren area of the sea bed suddenly ‘blossom’ with life a year later as a result of the activity of dredging, mainly because it stirred up a lot of the nutrients buried beneath the floor of the seabed and many species came to that area after we had left to utilise that newly available resource.

    I know this because when we returned to the same ground a year later there was an abundance of diverse creatures to be found there whereas there were very few the year before. In that instance the dredging had formed a rich and diverse ecosystem where a very sparse one had existed previously.

    Much of the over fishing that has occurred over the last 30-odd years has been of a particularly perverse nature.

    For instance, in northern Scottish waters, Danish boats have been catching large quantities of sand-eels for many years, not to feed people but to be transformed into pig food and eventually Danish bacon for the British breakfast.

    Roughly 100 tons of fish is needed to produce one ton of bacon. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that that is not a good way to go about things.

    Much of the over-fishing is the result of British people eating a very small range of fish, i.e. cod and plaice.

    It would certainly help with the pressures on those species if the British palate would try more of the amazing variety of tasty, nutritious fish that live around our coasts. Much of the ‘fish product’ sold in supermarkets in packages and boxes are this type of fish, mashed up and reformed and flavoured and sold as fish-cakes and similar.

    Many of the boats which now fish scallops and beam-trawls were at one time fishing for round-fish but either had no licences or had them revoked in fisheries cut-backs. To keep the boats fishing, the owners were forced to start scalloping as there was very little regulation concerning the scallop fishery. Once these boats began to catch scallops the stocks were severely reduced in a very short time. So it was a knock-on effect from other poorly thought out legislation which caused so many boats to become scallopers in the first place.

    The Isle of Man has always had a self-imposed off season and a 110mm size limit across the widest part of the shell. The adjacent countries have no closed season and a 100mm limit.

    So the Manx fishermen have been doing more, voluntarily, than the EU or UK Govt have ever done through legislation. This is highly commendable and should be remembered in any future discussions on the subject, as the Manx fishermen have been proactive leaders, not reluctant followers.

    So you see, this is not a simple problem that can be resolved simply by banning trawling and dredging. But you can bet that that is what will happen as ill-informed and worse, deliberately mis-informed people clamour to protect the seas which they actually know nothing about!

    Other than that, I think it is a very good idea to have reserves for the regeneration of various species, but don’t let the idiots in Brussels or even Whitehall or Tynwald decide where or how big these reserves are as they will make a ‘vote conscious decision’, rather than a find a proper balance between the needs of an industry and the needs of the animals themselves. After all, there would be no point in preserving the fishery if it costs the livelihoods of the fishermen.

    John Callister

    Address supplied

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Hugh and a war of words over penguins: Marine scientist accuses chef of 'glaring inaccuracies' in campaign against overfishing

    Dr Ruth Brown interviewed on Fearnley-Whittingstall's Hugh's Fish Fight
    She said in letter afterwards she was 'ashamed' to have taken part
    Marine scientist said programme was 'poorly researched and misleading'
    But Fearnley-Whittingstall insisted his show was 'meticulously researched'

    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign against over-fishing hit choppy waters yesterday after a marine scientist featured in his TV show branded it ‘poorly researched and misleading’.

    Dr Ruth Brown, a supporter of his fight for sustainable fishing, accused the multi-millionaire chef of ‘glaring inaccuracies’ in his investigation into krill fishing in the South Atlantic and of presenting her in an ‘unfair and unflattering light’.

    She is unhappy about apparent suggestions that the penguin population is falling because they are struggling to find food as a result of krill fishing.

    Fearnley-Whittingstall travelled 8,000 miles to speak to the 36-year-old zoologist and other conservationists working in South Georgia, the British territory close to Antarctica, for the latest episode of Hugh’s Fish Fight.

    Fishing for krill is burgeoning in the surrounding waters. The tiny shrimp-like crustaceans are used for feed that helps turn farmed salmon pink and to make krill oil tablets, part of the lucrative health food market for products containing omega 3 fats.

    It is understood Dr Brown, who has worked there as a field assistant for the British Antarctic Survey collecting data on penguins and other seabirds since 2010, was interviewed for around three hours for the programme.

    But she was left ‘ashamed’ of having taken part after she saw the programme, aired last Thursday on Channel 4.

    The Old Etonian chef claimed people on the island might be ‘wary’ of backing a new protected area around it where no fishing could take place because the fishery generates £3million a year for the government and ‘that money is what keeps the whole place running’.

    In fact, the BAS receives no funding from fishing firms. In a letter to Fearnley-Whittingstall, Dr Brown wrote: ‘You implied that the research I do is paid for by licence money received from the krill fishing industry, and that I am therefore unable to speak freely about my opinions of that industry. This is not true.’

    She also criticised him for implying that penguin numbers are falling because of competition with the krill fishery for their main food.

    Dr Brown said research has indicated the most likely reason for declining populations of macaroni penguins is an explosion in the population of Antarctic fur seals, which also feed on krill.

    Her letter ended: ‘[This] episode of Fish Fight was poorly researched and misleading...’

    Fearnley-Whittingstall, 48, who this week led a march to Westminster to urge the Government to do more to protect UK seas, insisted the programme was ‘meticulously researched’ and denied it said or implied that BAS research was funded by krill fisheries.

    He said the show made clear that it was not yet known what effect fishing for krill would have on penguins.

  6. #26
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    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


  7. #27
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    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Published: 28 February, 2013

    National Body Ensures Industry Voice is Heard at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Demonstration.

    Following a march on Parliament organised by TV Chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on 25 February, The National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO), which represents fishermen’s groups, individual fishermen and producer organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, met with organisers to give the industry perspective on the introduction of 127 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

    In a meeting between Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and NFFO chief Executive Barrie Deas, the NFFO affirmed the industry's support for MCZs, as a way of protecting vulnerable marine features and sensitive habitats but stressed the importance of the process establishing them is fair, rational, and evidence-based. A blindly rushed process would be the most likely way for MCZs to fail to achieve their objectives and inflict damage to both the environment and the livelihoods of fishermen and fishing communities in the process.

    Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said: “We may not see eye to eye with the Government on all issues to do with the industry but its decision to proceed with a first tranche of 31 MCZ designations, whilst gathering evidence on the rest is the only rational approach consistent with the advice of the Science Advisory Panel on MCZs. This contrasts with the superficial and emotionally-charged approach advocated by a range of NGOs, supported by Hugh’s Fish Fight, which carries a high risk of delivering perverse outcomes and unintended consequences.

    “MCZs aren’t a new phenomenon – in fact the industry has been working actively within them for over a hundred years and there are examples, such as the Trevose seasonal closure off North Cornwall, that are making a genuine contribution to conservation. The difference is that it was designed, planned and introduced with good evidence and the broad support of fishermen. This selective introduction is vital for the success of MPZs. In 2001, a large area of the North Sea was closed as an emergency measure to protect cod stocks. The scientific evaluation afterwards showed that this did next to nothing for the fish but displaced fishing fleets into immature haddock areas and onto pristine areas of the seabed that had never been fished before. This is what can happen with a rushed process driven by political pressure.

    One example of a rushed process of implementing an MPZ was in Lyme Bay where a zone was abruptly closed by Ministerial dictate in 2008 with no consultation with the fishing industry and inadequate scientific evidence in place. It displaced scallop boats to the Yorkshire and Welsh coasts where they caused conflicts with existing static gear fisheries.

    The NFFO and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall were in agreement that fishing has an absolutely critical role in the nation's food security and the NFFO concluded the meeting by discussing that although all forms of fishing have some environmental impact, overall fishing has a lighter footprint than almost every other form of food production and is managing its impacts to reduce them still further.

    Barrie Deas continued: “The message we are getting from the fishing industry is that Hugh’s Fish Fight seems to have lost sight of its original focus and linked itself to the agenda of NGOs with zero concern for fishermen. We must remember when we are talking about these issues that it is the livelihoods of fishermen and fishing communities across the country which is at stake”.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Why can't we have dog for dinner? TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sparks outrage by claiming puppy meat is no worse than a pork chop

    River Cottage star says people offended by the idea of eating dogs should also object to pig farming
    Chef admits he would only eat canine if he was 'on the point of starvation'
    RSPCA says his comments were made 'in a crude way'

    TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has sparked outrage after claiming eating puppy meat is no worse than eating a pork chop.

    The River Cottage star, who regards himself as a ‘real food campaigner’, suggested that society has unfairly dictated which animals can be farmed and which can be kept as pets.

    His comments were criticised by animal charities as ‘wholly unacceptable’.

    Fearnley-Whittingstall told the Radio Times: ‘In principle, but not in practice, I have no objection to a high-welfare organic puppy farm.

    ‘You can’t object, unless you also object to the farming of pigs.

    ‘It’s an artificial construct of our society, a cultural decision, to make pets out of dogs and meat out of pigs.

    ‘Both animals could be used the other way round – although pigs probably do make better meat than dogs and dogs better pets than pigs. But it’s not a foregone conclusion.’

    However, the 46-year-old did admit he would only eat loin of labrador or cat liver if ‘I was on the point of starvation’.

    Last night a Dogs Trust spokesman said: ‘We believe that the concept of breeding dogs for food in any conditions, high welfare or not, is wholly unacceptable.

    ‘Dogs are companion animals and as man’s best friend they provide immeasurable love, comfort and support to owners all over the world.

    ‘They have an innate ability to form real bonds with humans and their loyalty is unquestionable.

    ‘They also contribute so much to society through their vital roles with our armed forces and the police, and they help people in need such as those who are sight and hearing impaired or otherwise disabled.’

    An RSPCA spokesman said the chef’s comments ‘were made in a crude way’, adding: ‘Our concerns are with the farming of any animal, dog or otherwise, and his comments may seem sensible but are actually quite controversial – especially when dogs are our most popular and loved pet.’

    Fearnley-Whittingstall has spent the past five months not eating meat for his latest TV series and for a vegetarian cookbook.

    When asked if his new-found vegetarianism was a gimmick for the £1.9million publishing deal, he said: ‘That money is for a series of eight or nine River Cottage handbooks, which I don’t write so the money is shared. But I don’t think we’re gimmicky.

    ‘I started by looking at where food came from, rearing our animals and growing our food.’

    It is not the first time Fearnley-Whittingstall has caused controversy over his food ideas. He has eaten curried fruit bat, giraffe and calf testicles in the past.

    In 1998 he fell foul of broadcasting rules when his show TV Dinners saw people cooking and eating human placenta.

    He said at the time: ‘People need to be shocked to make them think about the issues in eating food.’

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    The Truth, a Good Story, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight
    Published: 01 March, 2013

    By Bertie Armstrong, chief executive, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.

    Fishing is a serious business, not least because it quite literally helps to feed the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) tells us in its biennial 2012 report on World Fisheries and Aquaculture that the proportion of the world’s protein supplied by fish products caught and farmed is 16.6%. For our world population of 7.5 billion heading towards 9 billion by the mid-millennium that source of food supply is important and must be sustained. At the moment, this is actually happening with production up from the 2010 report.

    What is equally important is that our fisheries are managed sustainably. Achieving this aim is a complicated business, requiring scientific fact to guide responsible management decisions. This is what has been happening for the most part for northern European fisheries based in the north-east Atlantic, with the majority of assessed stocks now recovering. Indeed, fishing mortality is at its lowest level since 2000. The Scottish fleet has contracted by over 60% in the last 10 years in what has proved a very painful restructuring period for the fishing industry. The Scottish fishing industry has also pioneered a whole range of initiatives in recent years to help conserve stocks including technical modifications to fishing gear that have dramatically reduced discards and real-time area closures to protect nursery grounds for fish. This is why we would really like the public to have a realistic view of the fishing industry, which is informed by fact.

    Unfortunately, this has most resoundingly not been the case with the latest Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight TV series where it would appear that the public are being well and truly hoodwinked.

    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. Link to the letter:

    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.

    Of course, the Fish Fight is colourful and has to this point kept Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and by way of a by-catch, the River Cottage empire, in the public eye. He is well sponsored – view the website of the philanthropic body the Oak Foundation and you’ll see that his film company KEO involved in the programme received just shy of half a million dollars in 2011 for such work. And I don’t imagine that Channel 4 is screening it for nothing. But wouldn’t it be much better and more productive for the well-being of our fisheries if such funding went into collaborative research and other projects that actually involve the fishing industry?

    In summary, the Fish Fight is lightweight, populist advocacy scantily dressed as science. But that doesn’t help sustainable fishing – perversely it does the reverse. We are hugely concerned that it provides unwarranted criticism that affects our general reputation in the eyes of the public. And if you have any questions about the industry or would like pointing in the direction of independent scientific evidence, please just ask us – And for the Southern Ocean, ask the neutral, objective, impeccably qualified people of the British Antarctic Survey.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Fraserburgh , Scotland


    Documentary is “over-simplified”

    Friday, 01 March 2013 14:29

    DR Paul Williams, chief executive, Seafish, has accused a recent Channel 4 documentary on fisheries of “over-simplification of a complex issue for the purposes of television entertainment.”

    In a statement issued today, after the second episode of the series was aired in the UK, he said: “we are supportive of the concept of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) but remain firmly opposed to the over-simplification of a complex issue for the purposes of television entertainment. Seafish has extensively reviewed the Fish Fight charter and found it to be indiscriminate and lacking in evidence. These are views that we stand by wholeheartedly.

    “The move for MPAs is not a new campaign, the industry has been working with governments, scientists and environmental groups for years on this. We are seeing the first stage development of that work being consulted on now and it will mean over 22% of UK waters being protected, with more to come along in the future once the necessary data is acquired.

    “Hugh’s Fish Fight, through its charter, is demanding that all provisionally nominated areas are implemented now despite the fact that more guidance and knowledge has been cited as being required. It is our belief that this presents risks to the environment it is trying to protect and, with that, the industries and communities across England which depend upon them.

    “The industry has taken positive steps to address the issues raised in the programme over the years, and KEO films has been in attendance at pan-industry meetings, facilitated by Seafish, to directly hear about them.

    “It has therefore been deeply disappointing to see the subject of MPAs treated in such a one-sided manner, especially given the input industry gave to this series, and the previous Fish Fight campaign.

    “By circumnavigating the scientific advice published on MPAs, Hugh’s Fish Fight has portrayed parts of the fishing industry in a wholly inaccurate light in order to motivate its audience into action.

    “We believe these tactics may now have served only to alienate the fishing industry from a process which, in order to achieve the required environmental, social and economic goals, needs the collaboration and cooperation of all parties.”

    The full Seafish response to the charter is available at:

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