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Fishermen are the stewards of the last wild food on our planet.
What can we learn from them about the ocean and our relationship to it?
Today, fishing is a rare and challenging way of life – Few California fishing families remain, due to complex regulations, high cost, and competition with cheap farmed and imported seafood. Struggling to revive a fading way of life, fishermen and entrepreneurs are creating new models for how to support sustainably produced seafood.
In the film, we learn from fishermen about the Salmon, Black Cod, Sea Urchin, Crab and Squid fisheries, and the challenges they face.
OF THE SEA tells the story of five California fishermen, and shows how our seafood choices can influence ocean sustainability.
Run Time: 82 minutes
(56-minute version also available)
Featured in the Film
- Jim Ponts [Fort Bragg, CA] has fished salmon, rock cod and crab for over 40 years. His father was a fisherman, and he grew up as a deckhand on the docks of Noyo Harbor. He shares his of knowledge of fishing with the next generation of fishermen.
- The Trumper Family [Fort Bragg, CA] run a multi-generational urchin diving business that depends on the sea for their livelihood. They are dedicated to the future of their fishery, and sell Uni to sushi restaurants all over the world.
- Khevin Mellegers [Santa Cruz, CA] has been fishing all his life, and partnered with his lifelong friend, Scott Bruce to catch crab, salmon and other species. Khevin represents the next generation of fishermen with a commitment to responsible fishing and ocean sustainability.
- Porter McHenry [Half Moon Bay, CA] has been fishing all his life. He recently started running his father’s squid boat, the Merva W with a 6-man crew. Porter and his crew represent a new generation of fishermen using responsible methods.
- Sarah Bates [San Francisco, CA] is based out of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. She recently purchased a salmon boat after a career in Marine Biology, and has been working as a commercial salmon fisherman, trying to make ends meet.
- Howard Makela [Fort Bragg, CA] is a second generation fisherman and wooden boat builder in Noyo Harbor. He is one of the last boatbuilders keeping the last of the wooden commercial fishing fleet alive and running.
- Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly [Monterey, CA} is the director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, a respected authority which rates seafood choices according to a sustainability index.
- Paul Greenberg [New York, NY] is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author (Four Fish, American Catch). His research about American Seafood and Fisheries is presented throughout the film.
- Martin Reed [San Francisco, CA] is the Founder & CEO of Blue Sea Labs. He is an innovator in the sustainability of food systems, and has a vision for streamlining the food supply chain through logistics and technology.
- Casson Trenor [San Francisco, CA] is a former Greenpeace activist-turned sustainable seafood restauranteur. He started America’s first sustainable Sushi Bar (Tataki), which has grown to 3 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Marcy Coburn [San Francisco, CA] is the executive director of CUESA, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. CUESA runs San Francisco’s popular Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, which offers several seafood options.
- Jim Caito [Fort Bragg, CA] is a 2nd generation fish processor in Noyo Harbor, and operates one of the last processing plants in the area. Jim is concerned about the future of North Coast fisheries in California.
- Larry Collins [San Francisco, CA] works with the San Francisco Community Fishing Association to provide local fisherman access to a dock to offload their own seafood and sell to the buyer of their choice. He is dedicated to a viable future for small boat fishermen.
- Paul Compagno [Monterey, CA] sells seafood at Monterey Fish Company’s fish counter. He takes pride in his work offering local seafood to his customers.
- Wyatt Dooley [Fort Bragg, CA] is a salmon surveyor in Noyo Harbor, working with Fish & Game to monitor caught species and remove chips from hatchery fish for data collection. He is enthusiastic about marine biology research and fisheries sustainability.
- Hans Haveman [Santa Cruz, CA] is a fisherman and purveyor of sustainable seafood. He buys from small boat artisanal fishermen and sells direct to consumers at farmers markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Alan Lovewell [Monterey, CA] comes from a family of fishermen in Massachusetts, and founded Real Good Fish to provide seafood eaters CSA-style weekly shares of fresh, local, sustainable seafood from the Monterey Bay Area. He has an ambitious vision for creating easy access to local California seafood.
- John Mellor [San Francisco, CA] has fished for sablefish, rockfish, king salmon, herring, and Dungeness crab using hook-and-line, nets, and traps. He is currently innovating a low by-catch fishing method for yellowtail rockfish, a recovering species. John is working to make a living doing what he knows and loves, and isn’t about to give up.
- Eric McGuire [Fort Bragg, CA] is a deckhand on the FV Blackhawk in Noyo Harbor.
- Kym Morello [Ben Lomond, CA] is a loyal customer of Real Good Fish’s CSF program, and loves preparing local seafood for her family.
- Mike Ricketts [Monterey, CA] has fished Salmon out of Monterey Bay for over 30 years. He is a veteran of the industry, and is concerned about the future of the Salmon fishery.
- Terry Sawyer [Tomales Bay, CA] is a co-founder of Hog Island Oyster Company, an oyster farming business with a complete “sea to table” food operation. He is actively involved in monitoring water quality and works with government organizations to respond to local environmental concerns.
CO-PRODUCER | MISCHA HEDGES
Mischa Hedges is a social entrepreneur and award-winning documentary filmmaker. His passion is telling stories that raise social and environmental awareness and inspire people to action. His last feature-length documentary was Sustainable Table: what’s on your plate?, a documentary about food and farming. Most recently, Mischa produced and directed Women’s March: a story of democracy & human rights. Mischa holds an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Dominican University’s Green MBA program, and is Founder and Chief Storyteller at TrimTab Media, a communications agency that works with sustainable brands to leverage the power of their stories and make meaningful connections with their customers and supporters. When he’s not telling stories, you’ll find him outside: trail-running, surfing, hiking, and biking.
CO-PRODUCER | MELISSA MAHONEY
Melissa Mahoney has over 15 years of experience in fisheries research and policy, spanning across academic, governmental, and non-profit sectors. She has performed a wide variety of research projects including age and growth studies of rockfish, seafood sustainability and markets, socio-economic analyses, and geo-spatial mapping. Melissa worked for The Nature Conservancy of CA, forming collaborative partnerships with fishermen to test new co-management techniques, market-based incentives, and monitoring technologies for improved fisheries management. Today, Melissa works for Environmental Defense Fund, where she supports ongoing policy work in the West Coast Groundfish fishery, helping to secure durable conservation and economic outcomes for the 80+ vessels participating in the catch shares program implemented by NOAA Fisheries in 2011.
Original Press Release
Upcoming documentary features California fishermen and explores seafood and sustainability
Mendocino, California (April 14, 2014) – With complex regulations, high cost, and
competition with cheap farmed and imported seafood, California’s population of commercial
fishermen is steeply declining. In 1981 there were 6,900 fishing vessels in California. Only 1,800
exist today. view the full press release (pdf)
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