Hugh’s Fish Fight returns to TV

Published on
August 5, 2011

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign returns to UK TV screens on Monday.

Six months after launching Fish Fight, which informed UK consumers about the regulations passed down to the country’s fishing industry from Brussels through its much-maligned Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Fearnley-Whittingstall is back on Channel 4 with a 60-minute episode titled “Hugh’s Fish Fight: The Battle Continues.”

The new program coincides with the campaigning chef’s strategy to gain Europe-wide support for the European Commission’s recently unveiled CFP reform proposals.

More than 700,000 people have now signed the Fish Fight petition, and enough people approached their local members of parliament (MPs) to protest about discards that an unscheduled debate was forced in Parliament. 

Following this, the UK government decided to fund a six-month study into what would happen if a discard ban was introduced. More crucially, less than a month ago, the European Commission published its new CFP proposals, including recommendations for an EU-wide discard ban. 

But Fearnley-Whittingstall is concerned the proposals put forward by EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki will be heavily diluted by the time the new policy is introduced in 2013 and that laws, particularly those on discards, won’t change. This is why he has now launched Fish Fight in another 11 languages and countries, most notably France, Spain, Germany and Poland.

At a recent debate in London attended by SeafoodSource, Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “If we can generate the same levels of public outrage there that we have in the UK then I believe we have a real chance to change things for the better.

“We need to keep up the Fish Fight for as long as it takes, and we need the CFP to deliver more than words on paper,” he said.

Additionally, UK retailers can expect to see a surge in sales of “alternative” species after Monday’s episode airs. Thanks to its “Switch the Fish” campaign launched in mid-June, Sainsbury’s saw a 7 percent increase by value and a 12 percent increase by volume in week-on-week sales of alternative species such as coley, hake, mackerel, megrim, pouting and rainbow trout.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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