PIMS & Baha Mar Resort Foundation Partner for Environmental Film Screenings

Storytelling through oral history, books and film can be a powerful tool for not only conveying and learning information, but also for inspiring hope and action. The Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) has partnered with Baha Mar’s Conservation and Sustainability Team to share environmental films in hopes of raising awareness and garnering support to address pressing issues impacting our ocean and way of life. 

The Bahamas, along with countries in the Caribbean and around the world, experience challenges related to overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices and coastal development, which are major threats to livelihoods, food security and marine biodiversity. These harmful practices impact many commercially important reef species such as groupers as snappers that are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation because they reproduce or breed via fish spawning aggregations (FSAs).

To tackle this issue, the WECAFC/CFMC/OSPESCA/CRFM Spawning Aggregation Working Group (SAWG) recently launched the Big Fish Initiative to help support its advocacy efforts focused on sustainably managing these species given their importance to fisheries and marine ecosystems. Big Fish is a tri-lingual [English, Spanish & French] public engagement campaign designed to raise awareness about the vital importance of protecting FSAs and engaging fishers, decisionmakers and consumers in the sustainable management of species that aggregate to spawn in the Wider Caribbean region. 

The Director of the Big Fish Initiative, Ana Salceda along with the SAWG Communication Sub-Committee has developed a communication strategy that begins with the implementation of the communication campaign that includes a suite of communication materials, including the Big Fish Hub, compelling films and radio products featuring stories from around the region to inform, engage and unite fishers, policymakers and consumers. Three of the campaign’s films were recently shared in The Bahamas at special screening events, graciously hosted by ECCHO & The Current at Baha Mar. 

Venue for Environmental Film Screenings: ECCHO, Baha Mar

Two Big Fish short films, “Fisher-to-Fisher Advice: Fish Smart” and “Nassau Grouper Against the Clock” along with PIMS’ short film, “Saving the Nassau Grouper: A Call to Action” were shown in December. Collectively, these pieces were designed to not only educate, but encourage behavior change by offering tangible solutions to help critically endangered Nassau grouper, one of the most well-known aggregating species within the region, to recover from overfishing. 

Invitational flyers for the environmental films

Last Friday, January 19th, 2024, PIMS and Big Fish partnered with the Baha Mar Resort Foundation for the second environmental film screening and presented “Treasure of the Caribbean” – the centerpiece of the campaign. It is a story of curiosity, scientific discovery, collaboration, perseverance, resilience and hope. This incredible film was shown to a diverse and packed audience of over 70 individuals that included teachers and three classes of high school students from C. I. Gibson, Baha Mar Resort executives, staff, guests and influencers, several local non-governmental organization (NGO) partners and nature enthusiasts

Audience watching “Treasure of the Caribbean”

The students were most captivated by scenes depicting Nassau grouper, the use of sound to study fish behavior and spawning aggregations. However, C. I. Biology teacher, Mr. Danavio marveled at the pristine condition and resilience of the coral reef system featured in the film – the Cayman Crown and pondered why reefs in The Bahamas are struggling. Sharing his reflections, Mr. Danavio said, “As a science educator and wildlife specialist, I thought that the event was very relevant and timely — especially since it covered coral reefs, which is a major topic that is assessed in the Biology curriculum within our high schools”. 

Audience watching “Treasure of the Caribbean”

 

The film’s Director and Producer, Ana Salceda specifically flew in for the event. During her introductory remarks, she shared how impactful filmmaking can be and its ability to affect positive change. “Producing “Treasure of the Caribbean” documented the scientific work, galvanized stakeholders’ efforts and created momentum among scientists, fishers, conservationists and government officials, leading to the protection of the Cayman Crown in Belize and Guatemala” stated Ms. Salceda. “Treasure of the Caribbean” first premiered on Nature PBS in April 2023 and has since reached millions of people worldwide and received critical acclaim and awards at film festivals.

Director & Producer, Ana Salceda addressing the audience

 

The opportunity exists to replicate this kind of success here in The Bahamas. Mr. Danavio stated, “It is alarming to see the disparity between our reefs in The Bahamas and the thriving reef in Guatemala. I think there is a bit more that we can be doing here in The Bahamas and the documentary gave us a few ideas of what we can do to better protect our natural resources and marine life”.  

Marine resource manager, Lindy Knowles shared his perspective “I thought the film did a good job of showing conservation in a nutshell, from when the beauty and mystery of the site drew us in, getting us invested in the challenges facing the site and the passion of those doing all they can to keep it as pristine as they can in face of threats. It was a good reminder that while we face similar challenges, there’s still light out there.” 

PIMS is excited to have found passionate allies in Baha Mar to celebrate the power of storytelling through film, actively contribute to the work of Big Fish and champion advancement of our fisheries research and marine conservation projects in The Bahamas and Caribbean. 

You can keep up with the latest from the Big Fish campaign via:

Instagram: @Bigfishinitiative 

Facebook: Big Fish Initiative 

LinkedIn: Big Fish Initiative 

Twitter/X: BigFishInit.

To learn more about fisheries research at PIMS visit the Fisheries Research & Conservation Program on our website and follow us on social media via @perryinstituteformarinescience.   

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