By Nick Joy
OK, it was me! I admit it.The producer of the BBC Landward documentary,‘Saving our Salmon’, rang me before he researched the show. I want to make clear that I did not put him in touch with anyone, but did suggest a few people who would be interesting to talk to. I also gave him a fairly severe ear bashing about making just another programme saying wild good, farming bad.
The result was not a huge success for a large number of reasons but it did show more balance.Actually getting an angler to admit on camera that anglers, in my view, did not come out well.
It was also wonderful to hear the comment that agriculture has big mortalities, too, but doesn’t get the same trashing that we do.
Sadly, the same tired old face was pulled out of the hat for the wild lobby. The good news was that his face is very tired and it wasn’t that great in the
Our side did not come out that well either, though seeing our industry done any harm at all.
I am afraid that we tend to use people from the big companies. In this case, Steve Bracken did the job for Marine Harvest, which always seems to be the butt of these sorts of programmes.
Steve has held that particular poisoned chalice for a lot of years and we will all miss him. He came over as reasoned, reasonable and thoughtful.
We did not win the argument because we cannot. Business is seen these days as inherently bad and corrupt and those who supposedly are defending the environment as good.
- ing help. So forgive my defeatism in saying that we cannot win the argument. However, we don’t have to lose it.We must keep stating our case and in the end logic will win.
No one did answer the fundamental problem of why salmon have declined on the east coast at a very similar rate to the west. Nor did they question that fact that there was a decline before salmon farming even existed.
But I do believe that there were some good lessons to learn from this programme. Firstly, the guys on the pens make very good cases for our industry. I thought Lewis Bennett from Loch Duart came across particularly well and it was a brave move to put him in front of a camera.We should do more of this.
was humorous and made some telling points, and very clearly was not big business.
For me, the lesson here is that our industry affects many small businesses and these connect more easily with the public. It is also true that people tend to believe voices from outside an industry rather than those within.
Johnston of Cooke. I know they work on a salmon farm but you could hear the islands in their voices.
Funnily enough, most of us who have lived in the isles or the west coast know we are popular there. It is only in the big towns or among the rich
We need to hear more of those locals speaking about the impact salmon farming has had on the west coast and the isles for those who live there. These are the people who connect with television audiences.
The boss or the PR representative talking to the journalist mostly comes across as bland and makes people think we have something to hide. So let’s trust the people around us to do the job.
I am old enough to remember the Orkney isles before salmon farming and I was also a very keen angler. So I met many ghillies and I have to say almost to a man they regarded their income from it as secondary because they could not live on it.
I do not criticise the pay levels but let’s not try to suggest that angling brought a thriving economy before salmon farming arrived. It did not and it does not. It does bring wealthy tourists and it does support the local tourist trade.
Salmon farming brings stable, long-term, yearround jobs to areas which have little else. I know that there are plenty of people who don’t work in salmon farming who know that.
Lastly and most importantly, the lesson to learn is that the Landward audience was small, like all programmes about salmon farming.We need to keep this in perspective but we also need to keep thinking about how
we are seen.