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Fish and People is the result of the collaboration between James Cook University and documentary makers Brett Shorthouse and Russell Kelley.
The scientific material covers a range of economically important local marine species, from highly resilient to highly vulnerable, and explains their life cycles and stock dynamics under conditions varying from over-fishing to sound management.
The program is divided into five 12-minute episodes, each dealing with a different topic and all cohesively aligned to achieving greater educational awareness. A Teacher’s Guide for each episode is part or the package.
Fish and People
Pre-colonial Pacific Island societies by and large existed at human population densities that were far below the carrying capacity of their coastal fisheries and pressure from commercial fishing was nonexistent. As a consequence, island communities did not ‘encounter the limits’ of their coastal subsistence fisheries. People went about their daily lives harvesting from the sea, blissfully unaware that fish and marine invertebrate populations could be overfished to the point of collapse. Despite the existence of some traditional measures for increasing stock densities of valuable fisheries (taboos), usually in the context of feasting rituals, most Pacific Islanders traditionally have the fatalistic belief that fish stocks will always recover, no matter how severely they are depleted.
Now that human populations are growing almost exponentially and export markets for some fisheries are intensifying, there is an urgent need for the effective communication of a scientific understanding of the limits to fisheries and the life cycles of marine organisms overall. The fatalistic attitude of many people is primarily due to a widespread lack of awareness of how important the connection between the number of adult fish in a population is to the rate of production of the next generation. The more a population is reduced in size by fishing, the fewer fertilized eggs it produces and the fewer juveniles end up being added to (recruiting to) that population. The fact that part of the life-cycle of fish and most marine animals is a tiny larva, generally invisible to the naked eye, that disperses on ocean currents for days, weeks or months till it is ready to settle and transform into a juvenile, is also part of the reason most people don’t make the connection between over-fishing and declining fishery ‘production’.
Fish and People is a 60 minute production divided into educational modules explaining the ‘stock-recruitment relationship’ in an easily accessible manner and with a cleverly crafted portfolio of explanatory graphics and natural history photography. It deals with species that are of economic (and ecological) importance and thus immediately familiar to a Pacific audience. There is a carefully reasoned rationale for approaching the impending fisheries management crisis in the Pacific with a high-school level learning tool like the Fish and People program. We believe if a critical mass of young adults acquire a clear understanding of how overfishing destroys fisheries and food security, they will not only innovate their own, ‘bottom-up’ fisheries management strategies as they assume positions of influence within the community, but they will also be more likely to understand the need for, and therefore comply with, ‘top-down’ management approaches such as size limits, gear restrictions, trade agreements and quotas.
This 60-minute, high end visual production has been crafted primarily for high school audiences in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and has scope for further broad scale educational use in other territories.
The program clearly and graphically explains the science of fish stock dynamics using a combination of cutting edge animations, world-class underwater photography, and carefully selected interviews with local marine scientists, conservation workers and village-based fishers. The work draws on a combination of the most recent anthropological research on local environmental knowledge in the target countries as well as the latest marine science – much of it produced at James Cook University – on the fishery biology and population connectivity of the relevant species.
Producer: Brett Shorthouse, Oceans IQ
Director: Cliff Guy, Eco Media Production Group
Writer: Simon Foale, James Cook University
Writer: Russell Kelley
Camera: Wade Fairley
Editor: Marie Roman
Graphics: Jason Threepwood
Telekom Television Limited (TTL) are an innovative, progressive corporate entity providing of state-of- the-art television, telephone and broadband communication networks throughout the Solomon Islands. TTL have formed an alliance with Oceans IQ and the Eco Media Production Group with a shared vision and common goal objectives; to help develop and promote conservation initiatives throughout the region, advocating environmental and humanitarian awareness and enhancing education in the Solomon Islands. We welcome Telekom Television Limited aboard as strategic partners for the Fish & People School Project and beyond.