Below the water, there is another planet we seldom think about. As I am writing this, it is established that the water world counts more than 228,000 species, while experts estimate that between 500,000 and 2 million more sea organisms are still unknown. They form an ecosystem that is integrated into ours – many other living creatures depend on marine life, and that includes us, humans.
In many countries, fish and seafood are the main sources of protein. Yet the vigor of the fish industry is currently under serious threat. From Fiji to Mauritania, the fishing industry has indeed become a precarious if unfair trade with fishermen experiencing increasingly harder working conditions as they must face competition from monster multinational fishing boats, and take account of the overexploitation of fish stocks.
The issue of marine life preservation and the struggle of small fishermen in Africa and Europe to make ends meet was shown last Tuesday in «Desierto Liquido» (Liquid Desert), a documentary that was screened at the Contemporary Culture Center of Barcelona. Directors Alba Azaola and Daniel Carrasco, both former Greenpeace activists, who, on site, were able to see first-hand the current state of the marine life, offered a clear picture of overfishing, poverty and lack of opportunities that the fishermen in developing countries are faced with and that are causing social unrest, forced immigration and ultimately deaths, not to mention conflicts between small communities and big multinationals.
With this documentary, the directors objective is to spread the word about the situation in the seas. «It is an under covered topic that most people don’t want to think about», said Daniel Carrasco. Having already won 4 prizes in as many movie festivals, they would like their documentary to be screened in as many theatres as possible, and plan to turn it into an educational project. «We have had support from teachers and we are trying to get a partnership with governments. From this documentary we are developing related projects like Blue Hope Tuna (a film about the Bluefin tuna)», he added.
After the screening, a panel which included the directors, as well as Lydia Chaparro, an activist and marine biologist, Gustavo Duch, coordinator of the magazine Soberania Alimentaria and Daouda Dieye, a Senegalese national whose fishing family has been heavily impacted by overfishing. Daouda’s speech indeed added a human touch to the issue – all men in his family are fishermen and face the crisis on a daily basis. «The spend weeks at sea, risking their lives and competing with big fishing boats that operate illegally, while the authorities overlook the situation», he stated. “Many migrants from African origin”, he said, “are actually eco-refugees, fleeing poverty that is caused by the lack of opportunities”.
«Liquid desert» makes a call to fish consumers to be more conscious when choosing what to eat. In some countries, regulations require origin guarantee stamps and seals that show where the fishes come from, and the fishing method used. «There are hundreds of fish types in the sea, but people still buy the same ten or twelve types, which aggravates the problem of endangered species», said Lydia Chaparro. «The power of change is in our hands», she added.
The trailer can be seen here (in Spanish)
Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good that connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. In this article, Horyou highlights the challenges of the SDG 14 – Life Below Water.