RTE turns its cameras on Ireland's fishermen in a six-part series starting this Sunday on RTE One. Skippers takes the Irish audience aboard working fishing vessels in the Irish fleet to meet the men who lead these boats; the Skippers.
Crews in pursuit of their lucrative catch, involving long absences from home, 24 hour shifts, huge waves, 80-mile-per-hour gales, and the unpredictability that is the ocean itself are part-and-parcel with this job.
The series was shot by DV Directors who ate, slept, breathed and fished with our Skippers while they were out on the high seas in the world's most dangerous job, creating a sense of immediacy with the audience at home; bringing the action, and turmoil wave by wave, roll by roll. Visually stunning images of the Irish coastline and sea wildlife, along with the roaring ocean will compliment the strong-character presence of our Skippers and their crews, with the illusive lights of home becoming a beacon in the night for the Skippers as they make their way ashore after their gruelling trips.
In the first episode, two former construction workers try to make a go of it at sea, a fisherman's wife tells her story, and a mystery fish causes havoc for a trawler crew and a rookie skipper feels the pressure to make the grade.
Howth in North County Dublin is home to the Price fishing family and youngest son David is carrying on the tradition as an energetic skipper on his fathers 60 foot, €2 million trawler "The John B". David is fishing 80 miles off the east coast of Ireland in search of prawns. Times have changed for David as he has to work twice as hard as he did five years ago when he used to sell his prawns for double what he's getting for them today.
David is frustrated with regulations that make little sense. He has to throw away perfectly good fish due to quotas. The pressure of costs versus the price he is receiving for his catch is not adding up and this frustration is sometimes taken out on his crew.
The collapse of the building industry has meant that some Irish are looking at fishing again for work. This trip has brought on board two former construction workers John and Emmet who both want to make a go of it in the fishing business. For John it's a big change from his previous job as a plumber but he's hoping he won't have to be fishing for too long.
This trip will be make or break for the two Irish lads as David has to decide if they are cut out for the hard life at sea.
His training is tough and they won't be getting any special treatment.
Portnoo in Donegal is home to 42-year-old skipper Ross Classon. He's been fishing since he was 15. But Ross has no family background in the industry and is the son of a school principal. He went to sea purely because he loved it. This comes with a price to pay as he has less time to spend on shore with his family, when he does come home it is not long before Ross has to leave again.
His wife of 25 years, Anna, remembers the strain of bringing up their sons while Ross was out at sea. Anna has learned to deal with not seeing Ross for weeks at a time, she's learned to cope but she knows other families who haven't found things so easy. Ross's boat is based in Ullapool, Northern Scotland. He has to make the 430 mile journey by road and sea.
60 miles off the south coast of Cork is skipper Michael Meade. He's been fishing for the past 25 years and has owned his trawler the Buddy M for the past 10 years. Along side Michael are four regular crew members including Brendan from Cork and Sergey from Warsaw. Michael has seen the fishing industry slowly being eroded and is not too hopeful for the future. He fishes out from the small port of Cross haven in Cork.
The old fishing village of Castletownbere in Co. Cork is where the ambitious and determined Cathal O'Sullivan is based. Cathal has no background in fishing and originally comes from Kenmare in Kerry. He started fishing at 16 and now at 24 is one of Ireland's youngest skippers in charge of the 40foot trawler the Tea Rose. This €1 million boat is owned by Paddy O'Sullivan who has recently put his faith in Cathal to go it alone.
Cathal leaves behind a young family, his son gets upset each time Cathal leaves , but Cathal's duration at sea is getting longer due to the rising price of fuel and the decrease in the value of his catch. He often will do three fishing trips in a row leaving his family for up to 20 days at a time. With every trip comes the pressure of finding a good catch for the crew in order for himself and his men to earn a decent wage