Celebrity chef-turned-campaigning conservationist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall rides the wave of success from his Fish Fight campaign to take his battle into international waters for his new three-part Channel 4 series Hugh’s Fish Fight 2: Save Our Seas.
TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with him to find out more…
What’s happening next in your new Fish Fight?
“The new dimension for the campaign is the issue of marine reserves and marine protection. It’s an issue for anyone who is remotely interested in what’s happening to the seas and for anyone who eats fish.”
Is that something you are looking at all over the world?
“Yes, the new series takes us to all corners of the Earth, but we look at issues that are important to the UK consumer. Prawns, for example, are consumed in great quantities here and almost all of them are being farmed in tropical waters. Instinctively, you might think that farming fish is good, but the problem is that the prawns need to be fed. In Thailand, we found very disturbingly that some of the fish they use to feed their prawns are being illegally caught in marine reserves. There are some UK supermarkets who stock these products and we are challenging and confronting them about whether they are behaving responsibly.”
Are you still campaigning in Britain, too?
“Yes, the series is three one-hour shows. The first one looks at the domestic problem. Here what we are focussing on are the most destructive forms of fishing, the types that plough up the sea floor. In particular, we are looking at scallop dredging and beam trawling, which is the dragging of a heavy beam across the bottom of the sea to drag the fish up towards the surface.”
Are you optimistic about the future of the world’s fish stocks?
“The more the public engage with the issue, the more optimistic I become. It’s a complicated problem, but it’s solvable. Various studies, including one by the World Bank, suggest that if global fish stocks were managed sustainably, they would be considerably more productive by a factor of something like 50 per cent.”
What message are you hoping viewers will take from the series?
“Think before you shop. Don’t buy fish or fish products unless you are certain of where they’ve come from. Also take this opportunity to deliver a message to our politicians to do something around our own coasts now. This is the time to do it.”
• Hugh’s Fish Fight 2: Save Our Seas begins on Channel 4 on Thursday 14 February at 9pm