Over the past two decades, the unassuming sea scallop has brought on a quiet revolution in East Coast fisheries, one based on cooperation between fishermen, scientists, and government managers. Could cooperative research be the new model for beleaguered fisheries?
SUSTAINING SEA SCALLOPS is a 35-minute documentary on the history and resurgence of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery, seen through the eyes of fishermen and researchers. In 1999, facing fisheries closures and bankruptcy, the scallop industry began funding a unique research program to minimize impacts on the marine environment. Fifteen years later, the Atlantic sea scallop is hailed as one of the most sustainable and lucrative fisheries in the world.
From New Bedford, Massachusetts to Seaford, Virginia, fishermen and researchers tell a rare tale of renewal, offering cooperative research as a new model for sustaining healthy fisheries and fishing communities.
From the deck of a scallop fishing vessel, we investigate how scientists and fishermen collaborate on studies of gear design, deep sea habitats, and threatened sea turtles. New underwater technologies provide an unprecedented view of the marine environment, including a breathtaking mosaic of sea scallops on the ocean floor and a closeups of a loggerhead sea turtle munching on shellfish.
A Connecticut fishermen describes tough times when trawl fishing went bust, and what changed once scallops started to rebound. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science explain how gear innovations and better surveys ensure scallop future harvests while reducing needless harm to other species and habitat. Experts from the New England Fisheries Management Council and the Marine Stewardship Council join fishermen in showing the benefits of sustainable fishing on the ecosystem and consumers. At the heart of it all, a former NOAA Fisheries captain-turned-farmer works to increase fishermen’s access to these technologies through his non-profit research organization, the Coonamessett Farm Foundation.
As explained by a UMass-Dartmouth economist and demonstrated by people working in related fishing industries, the message is clear: a healthy ocean leads to healthy fishing communities, with ripple effects on the larger economy and ecosystem.
Official selection in competition at the 25th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival
Wednesday, August 3 at 6 PM in the Old Woods Hole Fire House as part of the Shellfish Shorts program.
Friday, August 5 at 7 PM in the Redfield Auditorium before the feature documentary THE MEMORY OF FISH.
Dock-U-Mentary Series – Screening at 7 PM on Friday, March 18 at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park’s Corson Maritime Learning Center Theater, 33 William Street, New Bedford. Followed by Q&A with the Coonamessett Farm Foundation’s Ronald Smolowitz and UnderCurrent Productions directors Elise Hugus and Daniel Cojanu.
Slow Fish – New Orleans — Sustaining Sea Scallops & The Watershed will be shown throughout the day on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the former US Mint in downtown New Orleans, in conjunction with a seafood festival and other public education events.