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The Catch TX: 5 Oct 2015, Week 41

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In this new series Channel 4 have taken the fixed-rig camera to one of the most extreme destinations yet. Deep-sea fishing is the one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain, by some margin, and The Catch gives us unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea.

Every day off the coast of England dozens of deep sea fishing crews are battling rough seas in order to hunt out the most valuable fish. But life at sea is often about so much more than fish. Miles out at sea the six-man crews only have each other to rely on, eating, sleeping and working together a matter of metres apart at all times – the work is tough, tensions are high and sleep is limited, how will these men learn to co-exist? Living in an environment like this is intense, and the fixed-rig shows fishermen like you’ve never seen them before – the on-board pranks, arguments at the dinner table, seasickness and the knowledge that a single haul can turn around the fate of a boat.

Though there's plenty of risk, the rewards can be high. After years of bad news stories and EU quota battles, the word is there is still money to be made at sea. Peak season for high-value fish is October to April – coinciding with the worst weather of the year. To succeed they have to pit themselves against dangerous weather conditions such as gale-force winds, 40-foot swells, and endless, driving rain.

Whilst the crew are out at sea, their partners and children are at home holding the fort. Constantly checking the weather and praying for a safe return some are parenting single-handedly, coping with the threat of bankruptcy, organising weddings and giving birth –life continues on land while the men are away at sea.

With a shortage of young men who have grown up in traditional fishing communities wanting to follow in their fathers' footsteps – recruiters are having to find new fishermen from further and further afield. This combined with rumours of big pay cheques has resulted in a new generation of landlubbers looking for work at sea, luring lads with no background in fishing to England’s busiest ports. The series follows these rookies as they join the tight-knit crews on board and see if they can hack it.

Episode 6 - Monday 5 October, 9pm, Channel 4

Every day off the coast of England dozens of deep sea fishing crews are battling rough seas in order to hunt out the most valuable fish. But life at sea is often about so much more than fishing. Deep-sea fishing is the one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain, by some margin, and The Catch gives us unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea. This week, we are exploring the North Seas off the coast of Scotland, where rumour has it the fish is plentiful and the pay cheques are high.

In Peterhead we meet the Ocean Dawn and Skipper Ian, a boat that has been enjoying bumper hauls in a season that they believe is one of the best in decades. But even though the fishing is good they are struggling to get young men on board as they are choosing jobs on oil rigs over a life at sea. But Travis, who had previously been on board with the Our Miranda crew, has travelled up north in search of good hauls and better pay cheques. The Ocean Dawn works in tandem with another boat – the Courageous III, where they pair fish and drag a net between them. This technique can bring in bigger hauls, but it definitely makes life at sea more dangerous. With huge hauls filling the boat up in just 2 days, it looks like Travis might have made the right decision to travel up north.

Back down south Skipper Phil and the Govenek are having one of their worst seasons in years, and he knows that if you can’t turn a season around you could lose everything. With an ageing crew on board, he has bought 25 year old deckie learner John to help out– but will an extra pair of hands be a help or a hindrance? Not many people are used to sleeping in a bunk under the water line, but there is no knowing how well a newbie will fare until they are actually on board.

Fishing isn’t an easy job, and it definitely isn’t one you can learn from a textbook. With tricks of the trade passed down through the generations it falls on the shoulders of the skipper to understand the seas and bring in the bounty, and find the right crew to help him do the job.

Episode 5 - Monday 28 September, 9pm, Channel 4

Every day off the coast of England dozens of deep sea fishing crews are battling rough seas in order to hunt out the most valuable fish. But life at sea is often about so much more than fishing. Deep-sea fishing is the one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain, by some margin, and The Catch gives us unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea. This week, we are back with Skipper Phil and the Govenek of Ladram. The boat has been docked in the harbour for the past 7 weeks undergoing a complete refit, and the crew are down £130,000 from loss of earnings. It’s time to get back out to sea and start repaying the bills.

Life on board is hard work - fishing is a young man’s game and Phil’s crew isn’t getting any younger. Phil needs to bring in new blood and train them up before his most experienced deckhands move to an easier boat, or retire altogether. But when Andy turns up on board for his first day as a decky learner he isn’t exactly what they are looking for. At 46 he is far older than your average deck hand and it most certainly isn’t going to be easy for him.

Fishing is all about timing, laying your nets in the best spot and then getting the haul back to market ahead of other boats in order to get the best prices. But the Govenek is days behind schedule, they need to work fast and fish hard to catch up with their rival boats and get back to market with a bumper haul of fish.

The crew is fishing through the night, working 9 hour stretches and big hauls are coming in. They’re on track to earn up to a thousand pounds each for their 6 day trip, but when news comes in that boats from across Europe have landed huge hauls at market and sent prices plummeting, they’re suddenly facing earning less than minimum wage. It’s up to Skipper Phil to read the seas and the fish prices and ensure that his crew aren’t under paid for their hard work.

Episode 4 - Monday 21 September, 9pm, Channel 4

Every day off the coast of England dozens of deep sea fishing crews are battling rough seas in order to hunt out the most valuable fish. But life at sea is often about so much more than fishing. Deep-sea fishing is the one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain, by some margin, and The Catch gives us unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea. This week, the Van Dijck is in trouble – half the crew have abandoned ship and with the boat in disrepair and a storm brewing it doesn’t look like it’s going to be smooth sailing.

‘The Van Dijck’, a scallop trawler, run by skipper Andrew ‘Drew’ McLeod has definitely seen better days. Known as the rustiest boat in the harbor the Van Dijck hasn’t had the luckiest run. Drew has sat in the wheelhouse on and off for the past 25 years, but at the moment he is struggling to keep his crew together. With a run of bad hauls ensuring that wages are low it is hard to convince his crew to stick around when they could earn more money elsewhere.

Simon has just completed a deep-sea fisherman training course, he doesn’t know anything about fish, not even their names, but he is willing to learn. But he seems to have joined the Van Dijck at the worst possible time, Drew is about to set sail with a skeleton crew and there isn’t time for Simon to hang back – he needs to get stuck in if the crew are going to catch anything. But they all know that this comes at a huge risk, 12 years ago the Van Dijck lost a decky learner over the rail and without the support of a full crew danger on board increases drastically. And when the boat’s engine fails and a large storm is on the horizon the situation goes from bad to worse.

On the other side of the harbor, one of Brixham’s top skipper’s, Anthony Shine is also looking for new deckies. He is a well-known and respected skipper and is one of the port’s top earners. He has just welcomed decky learner Stephen on board – although Stephen didn’t realize he was applying for a job sea trawling, he mistook the vacancy for a decky on a yacht. But when he is told about his initiation of eating a raw scallop, a monkfish liver and a turbot heart it is clear that he hasn’t signed up for a life of luxury.

Episode 3 - Monday 21 September, 9pm, Channel 4

Every day off the coast of England dozens of deep sea fishing crews are battling rough seas in order to hunt out the most valuable fish. But life at sea is often about so much more than fishing. Deep-sea fishing is the one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain, by some margin, and The Catch gives us unprecedented insight into the reality of life at sea. This week, there’s war brewing at sea for Skipper Phil and the crew of the Govenek, they are competing with foreign boats for fish and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be smooth sailing.

Ever since the fishing quotas came in there have been larger restrictions on where trawlers can throw their nets – for the last three years all the trawlers have had to fish in a smaller area, causing huge amounts of competition and overcrowding. Boats from England, Spain, France and Ireland are all contending for the best fishing spots, with the boats kept within such limited confines it’s proving difficult to stay off other people’s patch. When Skipper Phil is forced to head back to port he makes the risky decision to leave his nets out at sea unguarded, knowing that he runs a huge risk of causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to his nets if other boats interfere.

Stan is one of Phil’s longest serving crew members, and manages to get away with almost anything on board the Govenek. He loves the life of a fisherman, and would rather be at sea than sat behind a computer screen – but when fishing is tough and the money isn’t coming in he starts to wonder whether it’s worth the hassle of being away from his family 10 months of the year. He has missed his kid’s first words, first steps and first days at school and has concerns that he is missing out on the important things in life. With his wedding in four weeks’ time Stan is supposed to be on shore helping his fiancée with the final preparations, but when the fishing is this tough it’s hit or miss whether he’ll make it home in time to help.

When the crew return to the nets they find that the worst has happened – 6 miles of nets have been damaged, £20,000 worth! Tempers start to fray, but this is the time when the crew needs to dig in and work harder than ever to make up for the lost funds from the broken equipment. The crew is at breaking point, but when their wages are on the line it’s time to pull together and get on with the catch.

Episode 2 - Monday 7 September, 9pm, Channel 4

Matt Skipper- Our Miranda, one of Devon's top earning boat - catches over £1mill of fish every year. his crew have been with him for years - hoping to catch 40k of cuttlefish, monk fish and dover sole - profits are shared between the crew.

Has at least 3-4 people asking him for a job everytime he is in the pub in town.

Breaking in new crew member - Travis, out of work and on job seekers for past two years.

Not all boats have the same luck and ‘The Van Dijck’, a scallop dredger, run by skipper Andrew ‘Drew’ McLeod has definitely seen better days. Frequently referred to as the rust bucket of the harbor the Van Dijck hasn’t had the best run of luck. Drew has been running his ship for 25 years, but scallop quotas mean that he can only fish 11 days a month. With his earnings restricted, his boat in disrepair and no spare funds for refurbishments he only has a few months to turn things around or it’ll be game over. Miles out at sea the six-man crew only has each other to rely on, eating, sleeping and working together a matter of meters apart at all times – the work is tough, tensions are high and sleep is limited.

Drew’s luck looks like it finally turning around, after a brilliant day’s fishing he looks like he is about to start raking in the profits. But with a seasick deckie trainer Aaron on board and not pulling his weight combined with equipment that has seen better days, will his luck last?

Pillar, Mikey, Harry – used to be the best earning boat, not doing too great but Drew is the best skipper they know.

Aaron – deckie with Drew, first trip at sea – did years of singing and dancing, not your average fisherman. Only allowed to follow the ecrew, it’s time for his first haul but the winds have picked up and there is a force 8 gale. When you get ill you can’t get off the boat, you are on board until you dock back in port.

Travis 21– all his mates are in the army, in jail or sit on their backsides – he isn’t lazy, wants to work hard, knows he won’t like it but will get used to it and work hard.

350 boxes full of cuttlefish monkfish and dover sole. Surived his first trip at sea,

Got to team out for miles to get a chance to make more money. Don’t earn any money while steaming. 5 hours of fuel – can’t just stay there and think the fish will come to you.

Episode 1 - Monday 31 August, 9pm, Channel 4

In the first episode of the series we meet Phil, the skipper of a large Gill netter called the ‘Govenek of Ladram’. Phil runs a tight ship, wanting his crew to work hard, eat together as a team and even makes sure that they dress up for meals without any fish guts on their clothes. Phil’s crew, Stan, Stevie, Sean, Bricktop and Simon, have been with him for years and are a well-oiled machine. But fishing can be a young man’s game and his crew isn’t getting any younger, Phil needs to bring in new blood and train them up before his most experienced deckhands move to an easier boat, or retire altogether.

Louis is a lost 21-year-old on the dole who has struggled in the past to feel part of a group and make friends. He lives at home with his mum and has never been to sea before. He has signed up for a deckie training course in the hope that he will be able to find a career, and a crew that will accept him as one of their own. But Louis has a rough ride ahead of him, to fit in he doesn’t just have to show that he can graft on deck but that he understands the rules of boat etiquette.

But life on board isn’t only difficult for the rookies, all the pressure and big decisions fall into the hands of skipper Phil. On a fishing boat there are no set wages, the crew earn a percentage of the profits – so if the haul is bad, the fish prices drop or a storm sets in they are the ones with the big decisions to make. Phil decides to steam 197 miles through a gale force 10 storm in the hunt for a good catch. But will his gamble of £7000 of diesel steaming through 40 foot swells pay off and ensure that his crew comes away with a paycheck after a week at sea?

Past TX Information

THE CATCH 8/8
20 Oct 2015, 01:15
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