Fishing News found itself swept up in the conservative/liberal ‘woke wars’ last week, after former SNP MEP Christian Allard started a conversation about our use of the word ‘fisherman’ in the Fishing News Awards.

With the debate sparked by the first-ever female winners of awards for those working onboard fishing vessels – Ashley Mullenger as Under-10m Fisherman of the Year and Isla Gale as Trainee Fisherman of the Year – there was more than a hint of an accusation that the awards were ‘PC’ and had been fixed. This was absolutely not the case. Both awards were decided by popular vote.

Christian Allard’s particular concern, raised at the Fishing News stand at the Scottish Skipper Expo, and to a wider audience via Twitter, was that it was a ‘backwards step’ to call women ‘fishermen’. He argued that this would put off future female entrants to the industry, even if those currently within it were comfortable with the title.

Unwittingly, Mr Allard alerted the mainstream media, particularly those taking on ‘woke’ culture. Within 48 hours we had been contacted by the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Piers Morgan’s TV show, all asking for information about the awards and an introduction to the two female winners.

Reaction from across the industry was predictable, with Ashley Mullenger leading the rebuttal from female fisherman saying they wished to be called precisely that – and that it was up to no one else to tell them otherwise.

Look out for her article on the subject in Fishing News next week. Subscribe here.

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