The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2008 Jan 1

Films on fishing to be
screened in St. Andrews

ST. ANDREWS — The Fundy North Fishermen's Association and the St. Andrews Film Society will screen three recent short documentary films about fishing in the Bay of Fundy on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the W.C. O'Neill Arena Theatre.

The first film, "Sharing the Waters: A Conversation with Saint John Fishermen," examines the effects of industrial development on Saint John's inshore fishery. The film begins with a brief introduction to the history of the inshore fishery and projects some of the impacts that the Irving LNG terminal and other industrial projects under construction or expected are likely to have on those who currently fish the waters near Saint John. Local fishermen share their concerns and the many efforts they have made to work with project proponents, harbour officials and other user groups on sharing the waters.

By presenting this film to the public, Saint John-area fishermen hope to foster greater understanding of their situation and of their concerns about the impacts of industrial development in Saint John on nearby waters and the lives of fishermen and their families. The film is an effort to engage the public in a dialogue about how our coastal waters are currently managed and how to improve their protection and ensure the future of the local fishery.

The film is short at 28 minutes but it carries an important message: fishing and industry can co-exist,but only if fishermen have a seat at the decision-making table.

Sarah Bood, a Dalhousie University graduate researcher in environmental studies, produced this film last summer (2007) for Fundy North Fishermen's Association. The film is a project of Coastal CURA — a Community-University Research Alliance. CURA is a five-year project for building knowledge and capacity across the Maritimes to support greater community participation in the management of our coasts and oceans. Coastal CURA is a partnership of First Nations communities, fishery-related organizations, and university researchers, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

"In the Same Boat?" (39 minutes) is actually a set of two documentaries, both from director Martha Stiegman. They present the stories of neighbouring Maritime fishing communities, native and non-native, each trying to maintain and defend their way of life. Shot at several locations on Canada's east coast, these films explore the emergence of solidarity between Mi'kmaq and non-indigenous fishing communities in ways that honour the contrasting roles that fishing plays in the two cultures.

Part one, "In Defense of our Treaties," follows members of Bear River First Nation as they stand up to Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which is pressuring them to sell out their treaty rights as the price for receiving government issued licenses to fish. For the Mi'kmaq, fishing is a right that comes from the Creator, a right that is protected by treaties. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized those rights, and DFO has since signed agreements with 32 of the 34 First Nations in the region. These deals offer money to buy into the commercial fisheries, as long as the Mi'kmaq fish under DFO's jurisdiction. That's not good enough for Bear River, one of two native fishing communities refusing to sign.

Part two, "The End of the Line," focuses on one man's struggle to save the hook and line cod fishery. It's the story of Nova Scotia cod handliner Terry Farnsworth, said to be the last working handliner left on the Bay of Fundy.

Handlining is certainly one of the most ecological of fishing technologies around, and, for Terry, it's a sustainable vocation he would like others to understand and appreciate in this era when most fishing licenses have been acquired by corporations that use big boats and super-efficient equipment to harvest their catch. As industrial efficiency exhausts fish stocks, will Terry and other small scale fishermen be forced off the water?

Martha Stiegman is a Maritime-raised, Montreal-based filmmaker, academic, and activist. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University in the Interdisciplinary Special Individualized Program. Her research examines the common interests of Mi'kmaq and non-native fishing communities in the effort to privatize and industrialize the Nova Scotia fishery as well as the role of documentary film production and distribution in participatory research.

The public is cordially invited to attend the screening of these documentaries.

For more information about Fundy North Fishermen's Association and Coastal CURA, call 506-529-4157. For information about the St. Andrews Film Society, call 506529-4982 or 529-3067 or see


© 2008 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB