AMHERST, Mass. – A new documentary from Fish Navy Films, “What We Fish For,” a celebration of recreational saltwater fishing and update on the state of the world’s coral reef ecosystems, will celebrate its world premier at the New England Aquarium’s Simon IMAX Theatre on Friday, Dec. 11 from 7–9 p.m. as part of the Boston Globe’s GlobeDocs series. Admission is free and open to the public but registration is required at http://support.neaq.org/site/Calendar?id=106306&view=Detail
The 59-minute film follows four friends who discover a world of strange and wonderful creatures above and below the water as they learn about the ecology and health of coral reefs and other habitats. Ted, the engineer, is on a quest to spear a lionfish, the newest threat to coral reefs in the Caribbean. Sarah, the journalist, doesn’t trust her grocery store and tries to catch lunch the old fashioned way. Joe, the musician, wants to walk a watery mile in Hemingway’s shoes. And Andy Danylchuk, the University of Massachusetts Amherst scientist and fish ecologist who has collaborated on two earlier Fish Navy films, wants to take his mind off work.
The four friends are guided by such fishing legends as Chico Fernandez and Sandy Moret of Florida Keys Outfitters as they go bonefishing by pole boat and paddleboard, chase swordfish by powerboat and spearfish invasive lionfish under the surface. Also featured in the film are local dockside characters, world-class scientists and passionate conservationists, including coral restoration pioneer Ken Nedimyer of the Coral Restoration Foundation.
“What We Fish For is a rare chance to go eyeball-to-eyeball with the fish we love in their own world,”the filmmakers say. The free screening will be followed by a dessert and cash bar reception with some of the Fish Navy Films crew, Paul Greenberg, plus door prizes from Costa Sunglasses, Patagonia, Cheeky Reels, Temple Fork Outfitters, Umpqua Feather Merchants and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.
Fish Navy Films was founded by executive producer Ted Caplow in 2010 to explore themes in marine sustainability, identify sustainable seafood and to balance entertainment with truth to discover compelling solutions to some 21st century dilemmas. His earlier film with UMass Amherst fish ecologist Danylchuk, “Raising Shrimp,” was named an official selection of the Blue Ocean Film Festival in 2014.
Danylchuk served as scientific advisor and host for that and another previous Fish Navy Films production, “Fish Meat.” He describes himself as being on a personal crusade to ensure that fish are around for future generations to enjoy, whether on a dinner plate, on the end of a fishing line or simply something to watch in wonder. “Our actions will determine the future of fish,” he notes.
Danylchuk’s research has included studies of parrotfish in Jamaica and the impacts of forest harvesting on fish populations in the northern boreal forest of his native Canada. He spent nearly 10 years in The Bahamas helping to develop the Cape Eleuthera Institute and launching a series of studies of great barracuda, sharks and bonefish, which were featured on ESPN’s “Pirates of the Flats.” Danylchuk is also a Fly Fishing Ambassador for Patagonia, as well as a board member for the Indifly Foundation, a group geared up to use fly fishing for job creation and poverty alleviation in emerging economies.
Danylchuk’s current fish conservation research reaches from New England to The Bahamas, and as far away as Africa and French Polynesia, and is focused on developing best practices for recreational fisheries and exploring new models of sustainable aquaculture that can help meet the growing human demands for fish meat.