Isles to hit the small screen again in documentary on fishing issues

Food writer, cook and presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was in Shetland this week to film for a new series about the fishing industry.

The show, which will air on Channel 4 in January, will take a similar vein as the River Cottage Gone Fishing series, but looks more closely at the fishing industry in Britain and tries to deal with some of the issues facing fishermen today.

The episode featuring Shetland will show Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall off fishing with Victor Laurenson and his crew on the Radiant Star, as well as at a visit to a salmon farm in Skerries.

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall is well known for championing seasonal, ethically and sustainably produced food. Based at the farm-come-venue River Cottage, his agricultural adventures have been documented on programmes for Channel 4 and in several cookery and advice books, and his team also run classes on everything from bread to butchery.

He recently took on Tesco in a bid to get them to stop selling intensively reared chicken and went on the hunt for sustainably sourced fish in his series Gone Fishing.

As a long-time fan of fishing himself, he is clearly interested in the welfare of both the fishermen and their species.

He said: “I think it’s very impor­tant that people care about where their food comes from, of course, and that they source ingredients from as locally as is possible. You have guys like these who work really hard; it’s a tough job.”

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall and his film crew have also filmed off the south coast of England and in various locations around Scotland, but were drawn to Shetland for its location and the quality of the produce caught here.

After arrivng in Shetland off an Orcadian fishing boat, on Tuesday they spent the day on the Radiant Star. The Shetland Times caught up with him as the boat came to land its catch at the Scalloway market.

He said: “We’ve had a great day. We’ve been off with Victor and his crew, who are a great bunch of guys, and caught some haddock . . . I did a bit of cooking. I made them a fried haddock sandwich with my own special sauce, which they seemed to like. They have a very good cook, Larry, onboard, who does a great job, so I think they do alright.”

It was an early start for the presenter and his crew, who set off at 5am with the Radiant Star.

Mr Fearnly-Whittingstall was clearly tired from the long day off, but was nonetheless enthusiastic about it and about the work of crewmen like those on the Radiant Star, who he said had a “hard job”.

He said he was a big fan of Scotland and regularly visits the Western Isles with this family, and was pleased to get the chance to come to Shetland.

“I’ve never been here before, but what a beautiful place. The sunrise this morning was just amazing.”

Mr Laurenson has featured on the BBC series Trawlermen and it was through this that he got involved with the show, after getting a call “out of the blue”.

He said he was happy to be involved “as long as they put the right story across”.

Mr Laurenson said: “Hopefully we opened his eyes up a bit. He’s been fed the same information as a lot of folk has, and I think he was surprised at how much fish was in the sea as the scientists keep saying that there’s none.”

Despite the rough weather, Mr Laurenson said the presenter and the film crew had all managed fine at sea and the day had gone well.

He said: “They were all alright, it came a bit rough towards the end of the day but they’d been off in another boat before so they were alright.

“It went no bad . . . his cooking was pretty good. He knew how to do it!”

The series is to be aired in January on Channel 4.


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