I had heard the rumors. There was to be a new series about fishing, along the lines of Deadliest Catch, and Lobster Wars, and others like it. It appears that the tv viewing public really enjoy these types of shows.
There have been some interesting fishery issues concerning the New England ground fishery, and I decided to contact Gloucester Fisherman Captain Dave Marciano, and discuss our shared concerns.
During the conversation, I asked him what he had been up to.
He mentioned that he had been busy filming with National Geographic Channel's upcoming TV show, "Wicked Tuna".
Wicked Tuna, meanwhile, hails from Piligian's Pilgrim Studios (Dirty Jobs)and will explore the business of bluefin tuna fishing in Gloucester, Mass., as crews set sail for the elusive fish that can fetch between $3,000 and $15,000 in peak season.
“Commercial tuna fishing is brutally competitive. With its limited season, the intelligence and prowess of the fish, and the sheer fact that they’re worth so much, the livelihood of each vessel’s crew can be made or broken in a month,” Piligian said. “Pairing that kind of pressure with the harsh environment of Gloucester makes this one of the most intense and compelling series Pilgrim has ever produced.”
The series is attracting plenty of attention and there already have been articles written about the show and featured in numerous sport-fishing blogs and in a couple of Huffington Post articles.
Carl Safina, not your ordinary fellow but is a MacArthur fellow, Pew fellow, and Guggenheim fellow, had a very predictable reaction, being anti-fish, and staying loyal to the Pew philosophy. I don't know much about Mr. Safina, but Pew Fellow says plenty to me.
Well, people, what an incredibly long drop it's been since the electrifying National Geographic TV specials of my youth, whose mere opening theme notes would raise the hair on my neck.
It seems almost like the scenario of a post-apocalyptic surrealist satire, unimaginable just a few years back: National Geographic Channel has been bought out by Fox, is "joint-venturing" with the disgraceful and disgraced Rupert Murdoch, and creating programming to push Bill O'Reilly's books. And, well -- National Geographic Channel will be killing endangered species for entertainment.
Anyone that's read my Fox articles know that this fellow and I do have some common ground, and I think O'reilly is a nut, but much to the chagrin of Safina, Blue fin are not an endangered specie.
They've just announced the new unscripted show: Wicked Tuna.
Oh. My Gawd!
Awesome, eh? Already, we have: a smiling face and a dead, rather small, bluefin tuna.
Here, in 2012, I find the premise revolting. Despicable.
Get a grip, Carl.
And therefore, it's bound to be a crowd pleaser as National Geographic Channel aims to lead in Cable's race to the bottom.
Every ones a critic!
The thrilling tagging of giant fish as scientists track their migrations across oceans might have provided the show's rationale, but that's clearly too intellectual (though all the other elements of cable success are there: adventure, personal drama (the tagging involves grad students), seasickness, profanity). Read the rest here!
I wish it was video instead of print. Visions of bulging eyes an pulsating veins!
He does semi-snap out of it in his next article at Huffpost, leaving plenty of controversial remarks that I personally found quite offensive, and un truthful, but that is to be expected from a Pew crusader. I digress.
Following National Geographic Channel's announcement of its upcoming TV show, "Wicked Tuna," and my consequent slam, I received a phone call inviting me to Nat Geo headquarters. Our discussion seemed a big improvement over their press release. Yes, really. As announced, this show will feature commercial fishing for bluefin tuna. With or without the cameras, those boats kill fish,,global bluefin tuna enterprise,,in the world,,problem arises,,global union of conservation scientists,,perfectly legal,,enormous nets,,Atlantic,, Mediterranean,,people use rods-and-reels,,killing relatively few fish,, but let's move on.
What I heard was: National Geographic is committed to the big picture. Conservation concerns will be part of the project. That's their promise so let's take them at their word. But can they weave it all it into a compelling show that will make viewers take their fingers off their remotes? That's a taller order. The website they're building for the series may turn out to be the better vehicle for the deeper story, and a wide range of opinion -- which there will be.
So we'll see. But after getting such a bad sense from their initial announcement, it was good to have my expectations raised.
Carl Safina has maintained my expectations of a Pew soldier fellow. Fanaticism.
Another critic, Virginia Willis, author of Bon Appetit,Y'all!, a third generation Southern cook ala Paula Dean style is absolutely outraged! Wicked Tuna: A Deal with the Devil. She feels "betrayed, heartbroken, and sick."
From her blog, we get a sense a beginning and end of a wonderful relationship and her generational heritage with National Geographic which, until now, was a part of that.
There were two magazines we weren’t allowed to play with when I was growing up: Southern Living and National Geographic. They were the “important” magazines. They were special. Now, an adult and a chef, I know Southern Living undoubtedly helped fuel my love of food and cooking. But, the magazine that has always been closest to my heart is National Geographic.
Southern Living and cooking also led Paula Dean into cooking some pretty tastey, but very unhealthy chow! And Diabetes.
She describes her youthful recollections and cherished memory's of the publication, and shares some childhood history.
My grandparents loved to travel in their motor home. Often, my sister and I or a cousin would travel with them. We’d go away for weeks and months at a time every summer. My older cousin Sam went with them to Alaska, a trip I still yearn to take. The next year, they took me to Newfoundland. While on the ferry off the Nova Scotia coast I witnessed a pod of whales rolling in the deep blue water. Later, my sister and I traveled from Georgia clear across the Southwest then north up into the Canadian territory of Saskatchewan before we headed back across the entire United States to Georgia. A stack of National Geographic magazines with the familiar yellow spine and the appropriate maps for our travels, accompanied every trip. In high school, I remember having the National Geographic map of Europe tacked up on my wall; it seemed a million miles away from my red dirt road in South Georgia, but I knew I wanted to go there, and eventually, I did.
NatGeo gets dumped into the outhouse from there.
It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s wicked in the true sense of the word, evil and morally wrong.
National Geographic is capitalizing on and exploiting the very species they have declared to be on the verge of extinction.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watchstates consumers should “Avoid” all bluefin tuna, referencing the near collapse of bluefin populations worldwide.
Last year, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeking an endangered status for the fish, claiming the species faces possible extinction because of overfishing and habitat degradation.
Ocean Conservancy states the species is overfished.
The Pew Charitable Trust states, “Some species of tuna, such as the valuable Atlantic bluefin tuna, are dangerously over-exploited.”
Pew’s Global Tuna Conservation Campaignis urging countries fishing for tuna to “enact strong measures that will lead to the recovery of severely depleted Atlantic bluefin tuna population, including suspension of the fishery and prohibit take of Atlantic bluefin tuna on its only known spawning grounds.” The list of organizations against bluefin fishing goes on and on and on.
As a chef and food writer, I care about the food I prepare, the food I eat. I work to educate my students and readers about responsible and sustainable food. As the National Geographic Society mission states, I work to inspire people to care about the planet.
John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society should hang his head in shame.
Well, Hush my puppies! Ah do declare! Virginia (i love that name) could be a writer for the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ)
UPDATE: 1/24/12 MANY OF THE COMMENTS BELOW ARE FROM HARD-WORKING FISHERMEN WITH FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. VERY CLEARLY, WE DISAGREE ON CERTAIN POINTS. THE DIALOGUE HAS BECOME QUITE HEATED. WHILE I DO NOT APPRECIATE NAME-CALLING AND PERSONAL SLURS, I DO APPRECIATE THE PASSION AND EXPERIENCE THAT THEY BRING TO THE CONVERSATION.THANK YOU FOR READING.
I give her a lot of credit, ton's, for her dialogue with fishermen at her blog, and there is a lot of information in her comment section that should enlighten readers about the fishery. The U S fishery, that always gets buried under "world" fishery issues. U S Fishermen are always over shadowed. Purposefully.
Between Carl, and Virginia, the oil money created Pew Charities agenda is clearly stated with many Pew recipients mentioned.
I enjoyed Virginia Willis's recollections of traveling cross country in Gramp and Grans motor home, something Daves kids don't have the luxury of, and viewers will get the chance to meet his kids. They are a working class family, trying to get through.
Captain Dave was active in the comment sections of these articles, and there is a difference between emotional anti fish comments and informed pro fish comments. Should you read them, you can decide for yourself how you feel about them, and the issues.
Talking to Dave, I get a sense we will all learn from this series, which will make it worth watching.
Carl Safina will learn that US Fishermen are more concerned about the tuna than he gives them credit for.
After all, if the fish were gone, the fishermen also would be gone. They want to fish forever.
Don't worry about Carl. As long as Pew has oil money to toss at Pew Fellows, his existence is assured.
I'll post more info, including air time when available, and when Dave gets his gag order lifted, we'll get more info.
Maybe after the first show, viners can interact with Dave and ask questions that he can answer for them.