NFFO says TV fish exposure "a mixed blessing" –

NFFO says TV fish exposure “a mixed blessing” Published:  12 January, 2011

THE National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations has said Channel-4’s Fish Fight TV series, which was aired for the first time last night, could prove to be a mixed blessing for the industry.

It welcomed Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s campaign on discards as a useful spotlight on the failure of the Common Fisheries Policy, saying: “It has highlighted the gulf between the Commission’s hand-wringing over discards and its practical policies which make large-scale discarding a  legal obligation for vessels in mixed fisheries.”

But the NFFO adds: “On the other hand, the fishing industry has good reason to fear the arrival of instant experts, with their preconceptions, over-generalisations, need for drama and instant solutions.

“The fishing industry is still weighing up whether this attention is something to be welcomed and embraced, or something to be feared. The answer is likely to be, like celebrity itself, a mixed blessing.”

The big fear among fishermen was that in the public’s mind the fishing industry in Britain was likely to be tainted by unsupportable practices elsewhere in the world.

It warned that journalists sometimes got things wrong, pointing to what the NFFO said was a mistake by Sunday Times Food writer AA Gill last year when he went out on a North Sea trawler to highlight the evils of discards.

He said Britain should follow Norway which had replaced quotas by a ‘days at sea regime’. This, says the NFFO, was quite wrong  and the Norwegians would certainly reject such a proposal. It also stresses that the big cod and haddock fisheries of Iceland and Norway had been around for centuries and were perfectly well managed.

The NFFO warns its members: “So, tighten your seat belts. We are in for a rocky ride. This degree of media attention can open doors, increase understanding and promote good causes. It can also generate misconceptions and corner politicians into knee-jerk reactions. A mixed blessing indeed.”