CELEBRITY chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should be taken off TV because his campaign to save fish stocks is damaging Scotland's fishing industry, its leaders have warned.

The presenter of Channel 4's Hugh's Fish Fight has demanded increased accountability in the industry, but the Scottish Fisherman's Federation (SFF) accused him of hoodwinking the public by missing out key facts.

SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: "It's an oversimplified message. It's like watching Downton Abbey and regarding it as a historical documentary.

"We find it frustrating as the public are left with the impression that all fishing is bad.

"The public is being hoodwinked by this colourful-looking, half-plausible, low-quality sensationalism."

Mr Armstrong said that, without a move to safeguard future stocks, he and many others would be unemployed.

He said: "Scotland is a big player in European fisheries and it needs to be sustainable. We are comfortably heading in the right direction.

"We can't go into a downward spiral of overfishing, otherwise we are all out of a job."

Scottish White Fish Producers' Association chief executive, Michael Park, said he did not want the programme to be cancelled if it was factual.

He added: "But I don't want it to stay on the air if all it is going to do is portray inaccuracies and falsehoods. He ignores the facts and just goes for the sensationalist stuff.

"We've come to understand this is not about trying to help the eco-system – it's about brand Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall."

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall has fought to save the world's diminishing fish stocks since the start of 2011.

Hugh's Fish Fight has resulted in the backing of 700,000 people, including Stephen Fry and Coldplay, through an internet petition calling for fishing in UK waters to be more sustainable.

In addition to hoping to reduce North Sea fish discards, the movement calls for the introduction of 127 new marine conservation zones in the UK waters.

However, fisherman claim to be abiding by current legislation and say they are pro-sustainability.

In the latest series, the TV presenter dived underwater off the Isle of Man to see the effects of scallop dredging.

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said the practice was destroying the marine environment.

But Mr Armstrong claims it is not as harmful as the programme made it out to be.

He said: "It does not damage the seabed or carry away important things or leave it a barren waste.

"It's giving something to the public that is colourful and plausible, then making a contrast that is horrible and dark."

Mr Armstrong said the industry believed sustainable fishing is sensible and agreed with Fearnley-Whittingstall that areas of the seabed ought to be protected.

A Channel 4 spokesman said it stood by its decision to broadcast thethe show, adding: "The programme is fair, accurate and was meticulously researched."