Blue Earth Alliance: Lauren Owens Lambert: The Farmer and the Fisherman
Over this week and some of next, Blue Earth Alliance will share significant projects that speak to our earth and environment. Blue Earth believes documentary photography can inspire positive change. They support visual storytelling on critical environmental and social issues through direct assistance to photographers and a collaborative community of professionals. “The link between compelling documentary photography and our collective motivation to change attitudes, behavior, even policies – is strong.”
Lauren Owens Lambert’s ongoing project, The Farmer and The Fisherman, about New England’s coastal fishing communities introduces us to the people who are working to preserve the Northeast’s marine environment and the historic industry on which it depends. Through her photographs, which are rich in detail and information, we meet people working in different aspects of the fishing industry, as well as scientists and conservationists W see the environment they are all struggling to protect, and learn about the challenges they face and the solutions they are working towards. – Blue Earth Alliance
Lauren Owens Lambert is a freelance photojournalist based in the Boston area whose work has a creative focus in documenting social and behavioral adaptations to environmental stressors. Her creative objective is to both inform through the facts and connect through emotion. In her work, she places people as part of natural cycles, a perspective that is sometimes lost in contemporary society. Her work has been published by The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, The Nature Conservancy, The Ground Truth Project, NBC and The Boston Globe.
The Farmer and The Fisherman
“The Farmer and The Fisherman” is a documentary project exploring the changing livelihoods and cultural identities of coastal fishing communities at the forefront of climate change and shifting economies. With ground fishing being the first colonial industry in America, fishing became a way of life in the Gulf of Maine, which extends from Southeastern Canada down the coast of New England. With some 400 years of commercial fishing history in the Northeast, wild fish stocks are some of the most stressed in the nation, and climate change is hurting the fishing industry with rising sea levels, intense coastal storms, ocean acidity and rising sea temperatures, changing fish behavior and location.
Over the past decade the Gulf of Maine sea temperature rose faster than 99% of the rest of the world. Fish are becoming less productive and are facing higher mortality rates with warmer waters and shorter spawning seasons. Ground fish and lobsters are migrating to deeper and colder water making the journey for fishermen more time-consuming, less productive and more expensive in some locations, while others are experiencing a boom. This movement makes accurate monitoring and appropriate policy making a challenge, leading to an increase in tensions between fishermen, scientists, regulators and the rising aquaculture industry. Local stocks such as the Atlantic salmon and Maine shrimp have collapsed, and the iconic Cod is not far behind with stocks shutting down from Cape Cod to Canada. In March of 2016 the Maine Department of Marine Resources paid out $3 million in disaster relief funds to 32 qualified fishermen because of a “major reduction in Gulf of Maine cod quota available for the 2013 fishing year,” states The Ellsworth American.
Fishermen are losing their jobs and are being forced to think about how to adapt or move on. Shellfish, seaweed and fish farming are becoming more and more popular in New England, and with the increase of aquaculture some traditional fishermen are trading in their boats for pens, while others are working on restoring ecosystems and gathering data to support the increase of wild fish stocks.
Because of habitat loss due to intense colonial dam construction and overfishing the coast, the wild Atlantic salmon now makes up only 0.5% of the available stock in world fish markets and is considered commercially dead. The Atlantic salmon is farmed in North Atlantic waters ranging from Canada to Norway and efforts to expand this practice to halibut and other fin fish such as cod are in process. With a combination of smart aquaculture methods and conservation efforts through habitat restoration people are trying to help the wild Atlantic salmon populations rebound. – Lauren Owens Lambert
Blue Earth Alliance supports visual storytelling on critical environmental and social issues through direct assistance to photographers and a collaborative community of professionals. Founded in 1996 by photographers Natalie Fobes and Phil Borges, Blue Earth Alliance offers fiscal sponsorship and other resources to photographers and visual storytellers who are working on long-term projects.
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