Trawler Wars is a documentary television series covering the commercial fishing industry working out of the harbours of Brixham in Devon and Newlyn in Cornwall. While it is geographically very far away from the BBC’s Trawlermen it is very close indeed in terms of content and theme and appears to be an attempt to replicate the success of the BBC series.
The series as a whole is presented as a ‘war’ to be the most successful trawler working out of South West ports, but as the skippers rarely see each other, and appear to be friendly when they do, this aspect of the programme comes across as a poor attempt to differentiate the show from Trawlermen. In a similar format to Trawlermen the trails and tribulations of life at sea are covered with the dangers that the fishermen face being described at length and. In another attempt to differentiate the programme from its BBC rival, Trawler Wars cuts away to search and rescue operations and explains how helicopters and lifeboats are used to race to the rescue of fishermen who have ended up in trouble out at sea. Despite the fact that many of the vessels featured are beam trawlers (which are one of the most environmentally damaging types of vessel) this issue is not mentioned, and issues of quotas, overfishing and sustainability are seldom mentioned. The late Pete Postlethwaite narrates every episode.
Trawler Wars clearly trying to piggyback on the success of Trawlermen, but is a good programme in its own right. Like Trawlermen you get drawn into the stories of the men who crew the boats, although the ‘wars’ aspect of this series does seem a little forced and unnecessary, and the search and rescue segments feel tagged on. Its failure to raise questions which are critical of the commercial fishing industry, such as quotas, environmental damage and black fish, loses Trawler Wars marks, but it is still a good programme about commercial fishing that anyone interested in any aspect of sea fishing will enjoy.
Trawler Wars is available on DVD on Amazon by clicking here.