The tangled net of trawler fishing

When you don’t live by the sea, it’s easy to think that the issues faced by fishermen don’t affect you.

When you don’t live by the sea, it’s easy to think that the issues faced by fishermen don’t affect you.

To see the bigger picture, we caught up with Smoking Apples Theatre, whose new show 'In Our Hands' explores life from the perspective of a Cornish trawlerman as he struggles with crippling legislation, quota distribution and big corporations which leave him with rising debts. Their award-winning performance, coming soon to the Cutty Sark Theatre, shows us how the fisherman's story affects us all. 

A fisherman puppet sits by the harbor side

‘It was initially our intention to make a show about the how fishing boats were passed down through the generations (a mistaken idea based on our land locked ignorance) but as soon as we started, we became all too aware of the food cycle that fuels our fishing industry.

People all over the country want to eat certain types of fish. The restaurants order this in from their suppliers, the suppliers trade directly with the fisherman and the fishermen have to pull popular types of fish out of the sea if they want to make money.

Fishermen find themselves competing for quota to fish these species and the smaller boats and organisations (who often fish in a more sustainable way) are forced into debt.

The financial stability of the industry is one of the main reasons that the majority of the fishing community voted leave in the EU referendum last year. Currently the UK’s quota is controlled and divided up by the EU. Quota exists so that overfishing does not occur and the stocks in our oceans are maintained. However, many fishermen do not want to have this dictated to them by the EU and believe that quota would be more fairly divided if it was controlled by the UK alone.

Seagull puppet sits by the sea

Whatever your view on the trawler debate, the global population is rising and we have to work out a way to feed everyone. Our consumption habits are now that we eat whatever we desire because it is available, rather than what is best available at the time. Of course, it’s not quite as easy as that and there is certainly an argument for restaurants and supermarkets taking more of a risk in terms of what they put on their shelves but as the city consumer, everyone can do their part by eating a wider variety of fish, eating the fish that is in season and by asking your supermarket, fishmonger and restaurants whether they have any more adventurous type of fish on the menu.

In Our Hands show by Smoking Apples

The impact that this industry has on real people and real lives has been the basis for 'In Our Hands'. In the show, things get so bad for Alf that he has to face the heart wrenching decision of whether to sell his beloved boat, his home or his quota but Alf escapes this cycle by buying up cheaper quota to fish sardines and works with his son, a marketing and PR executive city boy, to increase the public desire to eat them.

It is a humorous and heart-warming show so politics, food production and quota aside, come and join us on the Cutty Sark for an evening of award winning puppetry and an uplifting story of how Alf rescues the life he loves.'

Book tickets to In Our Hands at the Cutty Sark Theatre. 

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In Our Hands cast