If you are wondering why you haven’t had any updates from Tangodiver about the last couple of episodes of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green, it is because Tangodiver is boycotting the programme. In Episode 6: West Africa, a harmless nurse shark was caught and given to a village for food – even though they caught enough fish earlier that would have been more than enough to feed the village. Tangodiver wrote to Channel 5 in protest. While she was waiting for their reply, Tangodiver watched Episode 7: Japan. Tangodiver was very worried about what she might see as the Japanese are not known for ethical fishing, especially when it comes to sharks, or dolphins. Tangodiver need not have worried as no sharks or dolphins were killed in this particular episode. Instead, they were killing puffer fish instead.
The puffer fish is a particular delicacy in Japan. Almost all parts of the puffer fish are poisonous. Here is an extract from Wikipedia about the practice of eating puffer fish in Japan: “Puffer fish are generally believed to be the second–most poisonous vertebrate in the world, after the Golden Poison Frog. Certain internal organs and sometimes their skin are highly toxic to most animals when eaten, but nevertheless the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in Japan (as fugu), Korea (as bok), and China (as 河豚 he2 tun2) when prepared by chefs who know what is safe to eat and in what quantity. Many chefs prepare the puffer fish by skinning them while they are still alive, a practice said to prevent the toxins from seeping into the edible portions of the fish, a claim with no real supporting evidence, especially considering this practice is cultural for certain foods (many of which have no toxin to offer an excuse) and puffer fish are eaten safely worldwide simply by killing and gutting the fish while it is fresh.
Tangodiver is particularly fond of puffer fish, especially the little masked puffers commonly seen in The Red Sea. They are so cute, like little masked bandits. So, imagine her horror when Robson is out fishing for puffer fish. He is made to wear protective gear and heavy-duty rubber gloves because the outside of the puffer fish is highly poisonous. As the little puffers are brought out of the water, they are all puffed up, which is their defence mechanism. Then, to top it all off, Robson is shown how to cut out their teeth with metal cutters, while still alive, so that they don’t damage the other fish in the hold – as the fish must still be alive until the very last-minute. Tangodiver nearly gave Robson a little bit of credit as he looked a bit squeamish about having to cut out the puffer’s teeth, but he soon got the hang of it. Tangodiver, needless to say, felt a bit sick. She was so distraught about this that she hasn’t been able to write about it until now.
Since that episode, Tangodiver got a response from Channel 5. You can read the reply in the comments section of this post. It seems to her that the researchers and producers of this programme are more concerned with sensationalism than with responsible fishing. They don’t seem to think that Robson would be interesting as a fisherman if he wasn’t shouting and swearing, which is the complete opposite of what the professionals do that take him out to fish. They say that Robson is not an expert. Surely he must have some say in what he does? And what about the bigger picture of ethical fishing? Is it really any different from big game hunting? We don’t hear much about that these days as a lot of animals are protected.
Just because a culture hunts a certain species of fish, does that make it right in big scheme of things? Why is it ok to kill sharks for food when there is this huge issue of shark finning and the depletion of sharks in the oceans? The Japanese kill dolphins, but Robson didn’t go fishing for them. There would be a huge uproar about that. Who says it’s less offensive to kill puffer fish than dolphins – especially when you are cutting out their teeth while they are still alive? Does Robson tag and release the marlin or sailfish that he catches? And what about the fish he is catching in the Amazon? There is so little known about the fish there.
Instead of going for sensationalism, maybe Channel 5 ought to be thinking about a programme where Robson quietly goes fishing and has some respect for the environment and where he can teach people something about the wonderful marine life in the exotic areas that he visits – Extreme Fishing With a Twist.
In any event, Tangodiver is done with Extreme Fishing with Robson Green.