Image credit: Hugh's Fish Fight
When Bonnie originally wrote about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's campaign to stop the discarding of 50% of the North Sea fish catch, and when I followed up with a video launch of the Fish Fight campaign, some commenters suggested that fishermen should just stop catching the fish in the first place, and argued that framing the fishermen as victims was "the height of idiocy". But now that footage from the campaign and TV series is beginning to air, it is clear that Hugh has firmly sided himself with the fishermen—even liberating an over-catch of cod that would be illegal to bring ashore, and distributing it to fish lovers. So is this naive spin, or a wise move to ensure campaign success? On the one hand, I can see commenters points. If the fishing quotas are in place to stop overfishing, it seems only common sense that fishermen should make every effort to not land the fish in the first place. The ban on landing these fish was intended, after all, to remove the financial incentive of catching them. The trouble, however, is simple—it's just not working.
If over 50% of fish are being thrown back in the sea, many of them dead, then nobody is happy—not the fishermen, not the conservationists, and certainly not the fish. As the Fish Fight website explains, in a mixed fishery where fish swim together, it is next to impossible to avoid catching "the wrong kind of fish". Exactly what the solutions should be is a complicated business. Perhaps wisely, the Fish Fight campaign is open about the fact that it is not dictating the specifics of what should be done—but simply ensuring that the issue is foremost in policy makers minds, and building as broad a coalition of conservationists, fishermen, consumers and politicians to keep it that way:
"Re-writing the Common Fisheries Policy is going to be an enormously complicated business, and unfortunately there is no one easy solution to ending discards. Most people agree that the answer will lie in a combination of different ideas and policies.
Experts have offered a number of potential answers. Hugh's fish fight is not trying to dictate the exact solutions politicians should choose - simply to ensure that whatever their choice for 2012, the prevention of discarding should be a top priority."
Check out the video below to see Fearnley-Whittingstall working with fishermen to find ways to get their discards on somebody's table, even if it means leaving them at sea for someone else to collect. (Just not that far out at sea...) And then take a look as Hugh's partner-in-crime tries to tackle what should be a simpler element of the discard equation—getting folks to rediscover their taste for unfashionable fish. The trouble is, it means convincing the Brits to rethink their traditional fish and chips.
More on Sustainable Fishing & the Fish Fight Campaign
Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey Assaulted While Investigating Shark Fin Trade
Fish Fight Campaign Claims Early Victory (Video)
Europe's North Sea Fisheries Throw Half Their Catch Away
Iceland is the Success Story of Sustainable Fishing
Is This the End of the Line for Fish?