The Great Salmon Tour
The Great Salmon Tour
Every fish has a story–a tale inextricable from our own. The Great Salmon Tour invites you to share in the story of fish and men.
Every fish has a story–a tale inextricable from our own. The Great Salmon Tour invites you to share in the story of fish and men. Read more
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The Great Salmon Tour
(Read the GST Blog)
The Great Salmon Tour is an ambitious project to document the diversity of salmon and explore the deep cultural and personal connections we humans have to these fish. Through film and multimedia outreach, the project will allow us all a chance to be vital participants in this Tour. As we travel to salmonid habitats around the world, audiences will follow and experience through film, pictures, and articles our search for the salmon fishes and the ways they nourish cultural, spiritual, and personal relationships with human communities. There are several significant goals for the outcome of this project: to create an entertaining webseries for the public to follow the expedition as it progresses; to compile the material in a full feature documentary; and to work in cooperation with Vancouver Aquarium to create a multimedia exhibit about salmon diversity and the human connection. Every fish has a story - a story that mirrors our own narrative thread . The Great Salmon Tour seeks to tell that story, and make us all a vital part in its unfolding. We have a series of species and locations that we plan to visit.
These include the lost trout in the Sierra Occidental, Apache trout in New Mexico, Pacific salmon along the Pacific Northwest, Arctic char in Canada, Danube salmon in Slovenia, Atlantic salmon in Spain, omul in Lake Baikal in Russia, and lake char in Norway. We have already cultivated connections and logistic support for each of these locations, but the locations that we end up visiting will ultimately depend on our funding efforts and practical considerations. The main target territory for the 2013 expedition is North America.
To tell this story, my team and I will contribute significant amount of personal assets such as equipment and time. Thus, our first goal now is to cover the basic expenses for travel and logistics for the three critical team members who will undertake this work.
What is this project about?
This is a documentary about a journey to study the bonds between fish and men.
Salmonid fishes are intimately entwined spiritually, culturally and economically with people and communities around the world. The flesh of these species – esteemed for its taste and consistency – can be found on menus of world-class restaurants as well as on family dinner tables all over the world. However, few think of these fish in terms of biological diversity; restaurant menus will simply list “salmon,” despite the fact that there are six different species, native to the United States alone. The entire salmon family encompasses multiple species that are distributed 360 degrees around the northern hemisphere. Many of these are threatened or endangered.
Wherever salmonids and people overlap, there has always been a strong connection between them. These fish represent not only food, but also a broad spectrum of cultural values, traditions and human identities. Thus, when we lose the biological diversity of salmonids, we lose not only fish, but also our own cultural heritage. The essence of The Great Salmon Tour is the recognition that biological diversity is intrinsic to both ecological and cultural vitality.Arctic char, reef netters in WA, omul from Lake Baikal, Inuits drying char, chum salmon, and angling for Danube salmon.
Why is this important?
Biodiversity has become an increasingly urgent focus in a world where threats to species daily become more global. Adverse effects from human activities, such as the destruction of local ecosystems through pollution and decimation of habitat, put thousands of species in risk of being lost. The Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) surveyed a total of 47,677 animals and plants for the 2009 "Red List" of endangered species and found 17,291 of them threatened with extinction - over 36 percent. Climate change is expected to accelerate this loss of species as their habitats undergo swift and significant changes. For cold-water fish such as salmonids, this is especially true.
This imminent crisis is not only of concern for biologists. We as humans are connected to the diversity of life on this planet on many levels. Equally critical to our global well-being are the diverse spiritual, cultural, social, and personal bonds that have formed through the nexus between man and natural resources. If a species is lost, so also is the social and cultural security of the people connected to it. Only if we are aware of this connection can we protect and save our global diversity, both the natural and the anthropogenic, for generations to come.
Why salmon fishes?
Though biodiversity and ecosystem preservation have become familiar terms in mainstream media and public awareness, they continue to be abstract concepts for many people. But the loss of biodiversity and human heritage are intrinsically linked, and far from abstract. In few other species is this more evident than for the different species of salmon. The threats to salmonid species vividly illustrate just how close to the brink some creatures have come, and also allow us to see meaningful impacts from creative, broadminded conservation work. There are nearly 200 species of salmonids, and the planet is very close to losing several of them. The Great Salmon Tour brings the concept of biodiversity home, demonstrating that biodiversity is not only about exotic animals in exotic places, but is also something as familiar as the fish in your local river, or on your dinner plate. When a salmon species is lost, the people that depend on that fish, be it for cultural, personal, or economic well-being lose a piece of their heritage. The salmonids embody an interface between the known and the unknown, an exploration of the familiar but unfamiliar, a message that people, hopefully, can hear.
(Read about the Great Salmon Tour 2010 on Izilwane.org)
My first job after moving to the United States from Norway was to work on recovery projects focused on salmon populations in California for the National Marine Fisheries Service. One day a coworker asked me about the European Hucho hucho species. Although I come from Europe, I drew a blank.
“The large river salmon,” he said. I had just started learning about the many types of salmon in the Pacific Northwest, and I was intrigued. As far as I was concerned, Europe only had generic salmon and brown trout, and this new genus spurred my interest in the diversity of these widespread species.
As I learned more about the various species of salmon and the threats it faces, I decided I wanted to see them all. In 2010, my fantasy started to become reality. I traveled to Alaska to learn about salmon subsistence fishing by Native Americans, to the Balkans to document the unique Adriatic trout, and to Mongolia to explore the nomads' spiritual connection to the “river wolf,” a gigantic salmon in Siberia’s rivers. In each location, I considered how these connections promote conservation. The idea was to record salmonid biodiversity and to show how a relationship between human beings and a fish has shaped our world's many human cultures. I now seek to complete this mission, and I want you to experience it with me.
Risks and challenges
One challenge for this project is to choose which species, locations, and human relationships to cover. These decisions are based on both knowledge of the different salmonid species, the connection that people have to these, and access to the locations and communities. I have worked with recovery of salmon populations for many years; I am well familiar with the many species of slamonids and the different ways people are connected to them. I also have established connections with persons, organizations and government agencies that will help with local access. Some of the locations are remote and will require special logistical planning. There are numerous factors to incorporate in these decisions, including weather and available resources, but I have successfully negotiated these obstacles in previous travels. I do have a great documentary film maker and a photographer that are interested in the project, and I hope to find a good producer. However, the biggest challenge at this stage in the project is demonstrating that I can raise resources to gain their commitment. Support from established film professionals will in turn enable me to secure grants and sponsorships.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)