Hugh’s Fish Fight has come in for a bit of a roasting today. As plastered over the Twittersphere, Dr Ruth Brown, a scientist interviewed in the TV show’s 2nd episode – has accused the producers of “glaring inaccuracies” regarding their portrayal of bias science and the effects of krill fishing in the Southern Oceans. Worse, her comments seem to have been deleted from the Fish Fight website, appearing to many as an attempted “cover-up”.
Thankfully, this mess-up has now been addressed – with Hugh commenting directly on her accusations, as reported by Fish2Fork here.
But the error has fuelled the fire of criticism. So I want to explain why despite this, and despite many of the shortcomings of the movement frequently cited by both individual fishermen and their representative organisations – I think Hugh’s Fish Fight has tremendous value.
Fish Fight’s crowning achievement is that it reminds everyone in the UK, that UK oceans are collectively, ours.
I know that MPAs are not a black and white issue, I know that fishermen need continued livelihoods – I know that many fishermen work hard to protect the seas that they live in.
But I also think that the seas are the “commons”. Sure – they are a source of income for fishermen – but they also provide a whole wealth of ecosystem goods and services and INHERENT values for the rest of us.
Urbanised humans are increasingly disconnected from nature. This, combined with growing political apathy and impenetrable bureaucracy, means that it’s becoming difficult for citizens to think about and investigate, let alone care for, much beyond their house and home. The great outdoors is too great for our attention.
The result is that members of the public interviewed on the beach in Lyme Regis believed that as much as 50% of our oceans were protected for conservation reasons, while the sad truth is we protect less than 1%. As consumers, we don’t know about fish – and so 80% of our purchases consist of only five species – meaning fishermen have to throw the rest of delicious, but unknown species back into the sea. The wonderment of the oceans is buried beneath the waves; out of sight, out of mind.
Because we don’t know it’s there – we don’t know its ours. And because we don’t know its ours, we don’t value it.
So yes, Fish Fight has some problems, some simplification and doesn’t always give progressive fishermen a fair hearing.
BUT - Hugh is leading people, other than fishermen, to value our seas. He’s leading us, from students in Cardiff, to families in Hampshire, from a super-yacht operator from the Western Highlands (just a selection of the people I met on yesterday’s #127march) to give a damn.
And that, is priceless.