British fishermen are bracing themselves for a potential PR nightmare as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall turns his attention to trawling and scallop dredging during filming for ‘fish Fight 3’.
Last week, Fearnley-Whittingstall and his team pulled a North Sea beam trawl and scallop dredges along the beach in Weston-super-Mare to demonstrate the destruction caused to the sea bed as a result of their use.
The fishing industry fears the footage will not be put in context if it is used in Fish Fight 3.
Seafish said it could give a misleading impression over the extent of damage actually caused by trawling.
“While dragging gear across the beach can give a good visual, the way it behaves in the water is different,” said operations director Jon Harman. Gear was more buoyant under water and fishermen had an incentive to prevent excessive drag as doing so wasted fuel, he added.
Andrew Pillar, chairman of the Channel and West Sustainable Trawling Group, said trawling was typically only carried out in established and defined fishing grounds. He added that the question should not be whether trawling caused damage, but rather “is it proportionate and sustainable within the specific fishery?”
Writing on the Fish Fight website blog, one member of the public reported that Fearnley-Whittingstall had used “the seabed, some ‘coral reef’ plants, tractors and trawling nets”. He added: “Scary stuff! The destruction was total.”
Producer, Keo Films, said it was too early to confirm editorial content.