Film promoting bonds between surfing, ocean farming to debut at SENA

Published on
March 9, 2018

Sustainable aquaculture producers now have an unlikely advocate, in the form of world champion surfer Jamie Mitchell.

Historically, many surfers have protested ocean fish farms, including the most recent boycott of farmed salmon products in Tasmania, Australia. Food businesses and surfers called for the boycott after salmon farming giant Tassal said it would explore expanding its operation off the coast of King Island, Tasmania.

However, Mitchell decided to star in the short documentary film, “Full Circle - The Journey of a Waterman,” which will debut during Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday, 11 March , because he sought “a way to give back to the ocean, since the ocean has given so much to me,” he told SeafoodSource.

In the documentary, Mitchell surfs, paddles, and talks with water farmers who are committed to raising fish in a sustainable way. The film follows Mitchell’s journey from the northern part of Patagonia to visit a Verlasso salmon ocean farm, to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where Pacifico Aquaculture raises the only farmed striped bass in the world, along with five other locations around the globe.

With the help of Surfline, creator of the largest wave prediction model; documentary filmmaker Eric Wolfinger; and Jennifer Bushman, principal of Route to Market, which handles farmed salmon producer Verlasso’s sales outreach and strategic planning, the story came to life after a year of filming.

“The significance of the whole film is to see aquaculture with a fresh pair of eyes,” Wolfinger told SeafoodSource. “When a lot of people picture aquaculture, they think about factory farms. But the farms we visited are so far away from civilization; I was impressed with how unobtrusive they were.”

Pacifico’s farm, for example, is near a world-class surf break, “and they are very environmentally sensitive in the way they are raising their fish,” Wolfinger said. “The water is like a clear lake. It’s a gorgeous farm, and they are doing great things there.”

“It was amazing to find out that aquaculture was happening right there,” said Mitchell, referring to Pacifico’s striped bass farm near the Todos Santos break, known for having some of the biggest waves in the world. “I have been going to this place for a decade and have never seen it.” 

After meeting the watermen, and seeing first-hand how much the aquaculture suppliers respect the ocean, Mitchell has become an advocate for sustainable farming. 

“I’m trying to reach out to my friends who are protesting [in Australia]. I want to do something that is going to help,” he said. “I am very excited about sustainable aquaculture and the future, and how we can make a positive impact.”

Wolfinger and Bushman hope that other aquaculture companies will utilize the film to publicize ocean farmers’ sustainable practices.

“We need to come together so aquaculture is done better and in a really good, sustainable way. That’s where we are hoping this film kickstarts the momentum, and gives some examples of people doing it in a very good way,” Wolfinger said.

The “Full Circle” film will be shown at several large trade shows this year, including the National Restaurant Association Show, South by Southwest, and Seattle Fish’s 100th anniversary Sustainable Seafood conference.

After the premiere at SENA, Surfline will launch a campaign around the film and sustainable aquaculture, titled “Guide the Tribe.” 

Contributing Editor

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