Catch 22

As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall seems to be making some progress on his crusade to stop the wasteful discarding of undersized fish caught in the North Sea, we thought it appropriate to show some of this film we made over 16 years ago. Not much has changed, as you can see.

It should be noted however, that undersized fish whether wastefully discarded or brought back to shore shouldn’t have been caught in the first place as it takes out the future breeding stocks – hence why we had such a dramatic collapse in the fish stocks of cod as they need to be 4 years old before they can reproduce.  The film tells a story of people hanging on and finding ways to work around badly written rules, it looked at what the various fishing authorities, including the EU, were doing to change the fishing industry back in 1994 including reducing the size of the UK fishing fleet though decommissioning, changing the mesh sizes of nets and limiting the amount of fish caught.  So what did the EU and the fishing industry achieve in all that time and what progress have they made?  Very little it would seem…until a celebrity came along.  Oh, how we love ‘em.

Once a thriving business, North Shields was a busy fishing port on the northeast coast but hit by Government cuts, quotas and EC regulations in the 90’s, it has suffered greatly. Filmed around the infamous fish quay and market, Catch 22 tells the story of Alan Morse a successful trawler owner and skipper who borrowed extensively to increase the efficiency and capacity of his trawler but was starting to fear the worse as regulations and reduced stocks in the North Sea were taking their toll on his livelihood.  Skippers were turning to illegal methods to make a living and combined with the practice of throwing away undersized fish, the future of the North Sea trawler fleet looked extremely bleak.

Sadly Alan died a few years after making this film whilst out on his trawler fishing off the Dogger Bank.




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