The Farmer and The Fisherman
Saving the Last Wild Food
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About The Farmer and The Fisherman
“The Farmer and The Fisherman” is a documentary project exploring the changing livelihoods and cultural identities of coastal fishing communities at the forefront of climate change and shifting economies. With ground fishing being the first colonial industry in America, fishing became a way of life in the Gulf of Maine, which extends from Southeastern Canada and down the coast of New England. With some 400 years of commercial fishing history in the North East wild fish stocks are some of the most stressed in the Nation and climate change is hurting the fishing industry with rising sea levels, intense coastal storms, ocean acidity and rising sea temperatures changing fish behavior and location. Over the past decade the Gulf of Maine sea temperature rose faster than 99% of he rest of the world. Fish are becoming less productive and are facing higher mortality rates with warmer waters and shorter spawning seasons. Ground fish and lobsters are migrating to deeper and colder water making the journey for fishermen more time-consuming, less productive and more expensive in some locations while others are experiencing a boom. This movement makes accurate monitoring and appropriate policy making a challenge leading to an increase in tensions between fishermen, scientists, regulators and the rising aquaculture industry. Local stocks such as the Atlantic salmon and Maine shrimp have collapsed and the iconic Cod is not far behind with stocks shutting down from Cape Cod to Canada. In March of 2016 the Maine Department of Marine Resources paid out $3 million in disaster relief funds to 32 qualified fishermen because of a“major reduction in Gulf of Maine cod quota available for the 2013 fishing year,” states The Ellsworth American. Fishermen are losing their jobs and are being forced to think about how to adapt or move on. Shellfish, seaweed and fish farming are becoming more and more popular in New England and with the increase of aquaculture some traditional fishermen are trading in their boats for pens while others are working on restoring ecosystems and gathering data to support the increase of wild fish stocks.Because of habitat loss due to intense colonial dam construction and overfishing the coast, the wild Atlantic salmon now makes up only 0.5% of the available stock in world fish markets and is considered commercially dead. The Atlantic salmon is farmed in North Atlantic waters ranging from Canada to Norway and efforts to expand this practice to halibut and other fin fish such as cod are in process.With a combination of smart aquaculture methods and conservation efforts through habitat restoration people are trying to help the wild Atlantic salmon populations rebound.