Aquarium event builds support for commercial fishermen

Thanks to the more than 200 people who turned out for a screening of the film “Of the Sea” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a great community event, including several generations of the Monterey fishing community, along with local elected officials, restaurant owners and chefs, fisheries scientists and managers, and other community members. The Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust co-hosted the event in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a way to build public awareness and support for local fishermen.

The documentary "Of the Sea" follows the stories of commercial fishermen and women on the California Coast, including local fishermen Mike Ricketts of Monterey and Kevin Mellegers of Santa Cruz. The film depicts the challenges fishermen face in an industry where they have to compete against the low prices of imported seafood and work within many rules and regulations that their global competitors do not. As the film states, “In 1981, there were 6,900 fishing vessels in California. Today, just 1,800 remain.” Through depictions of fishermen in the salmon, crab, squid, black cod, and sea urchin (uni) industries, the story explores the reasons that fleets are dwindling, and shows why some fishermen are still committed to making their living at sea.

Following the film, Melissa Mahoney, film co-producer and Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust Board Director, moderated a panel discussion. Panelists included fellow co-producer Mischa Hedges, Monterey fishermen Mike Ricketts and David Crabbe (also on our Board of Directors), Ryan Bigelow of Seafood Watch, and Alan Lovewell of Real Good Fish. The panelists had a lively discussion about some of the challenges facing fishermen including regulations, infrastructure, and markets.

The panel discussion ended with a list of recommendations on how we can all support local and sustainable fisheries. Buy locally caught and processed seafood, enjoy seafood in season, ask questions, and more!  For more information, visit the Of the Sea Take Action Guide (http://oftheseamovie.com/takeaction-guide/).

If you missed the event, don't worry! You can now watch Of the Sea online. Click here for more information. 

Sherry Flumerfelt