This is what’s going on in the Bering Sea. In 2005 roughly 75 percent of crab fishermen lost their jobs. The remainder pay 70 to 80 percent of the seasons gross profit to absentee quota holders. This project chronicles Catch Share programs and the fallout on individuals, communities and culture in Alaska.
Most fishermen in Alaska understand the need for conservation, but Catch Shares encourage fisheries dominated by large corporations and absentee owners. These programs threaten independent and family fishermen at the heart of coastal communities. In a Catch Share system rights to a percentage of the overall quota are privatized, then leased back to working fishermen at very expensive rates. This creates a new type of ownership by those who contribute nothing to the fishery and instead turn fishermen into modern day sharecroppers, an unnecessary and disturbing trend in reaching the goals of conservation. This film goes beyond the sound bite to illustrate some of the complexities in fisheries management and raises questions about the society we’re creating in the process.