I dread being in large groups of people – nor do I like shouting slogans – but Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ had me putting a poster in our car. I support 100% what he’s trying to do, both with ‘discards’ and now with trying to persuade the government to create many more marine conservation areas around the coast of Britain. It’s an uphill task that he has taken on and he deserves all the help he can get from the British public. We will all benefit.
And that’s why I made myself join his demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on 25th February. A raw grey morning we had of it but it was cheering to see so many people determined to get their message across. If we don’t look after our coastal waters and encourage other countries to do the same, we will soon have to bear the consequences of destroying the environment upon which we depend. Give and take has to make a healthy balance for survival. Both fishing for food and the diversity of the seas and sealife must be preserved across the planet. We must send out that message loud and clear. It’s that ‘rights and responsibilities’ issue. We can’t have one without the other.
I remember as a child, sitting on the sea wall in Largo (Fife), dangling my legs and eating delicious fish and chips out of a newspaper with a bottle of Irn-Bru. At Pittenweem, a village nearby, the fishing boats would come in with their trawl and boxes of fish would be slung out and auctioned off on the pier. My maiden aunts would return triumphantly with a box of plaice or haddock, which they would grill and serve for supper with fresh lemons and boiled potatoes, cut into slices and fried. And for pudding, it would be the raspberries we had collected in the hedgerows with a dollop of Forte’s vanilla ice cream, collected by me from the local shop in Granny’s large blue and white jug. I just sped along the pavement with it, to get home before it melted! That supper was my favourite.
And so was paddling among the rockpools at Anstruther and Elie, finding limpets, red sea anemones, shrimps, whelks, tiny scuttling crabs and shy, almost transparent blennies, starfish and shells of all kinds. I especially loved cowrie shells, which we hunted for along the beach at low tide, along with bladderwrack seaweed, which made a satisfying ‘pop’ and dogfish egg cases, which were both mysterious and elegant in black – with twirly tendrils.
Seeing Hugh’s film about dredging for scallops along the sea bed and destroying the whole marine environment at the same time made me both incensed and miserably depressed. I could not stand by and just let it happen and it was heartening to see such a big turn out at the Houses of Parliament. And a big mix of young and old.
We have to make this happen – keep up the support! And well done, Hugh! For marine conservation text ‘protect’ to 84424. I felt so cheered to have actively joined in here on 25th February.