EDF Launches Video Series to Raise Awareness of Climate Impacts on Fishers

Personal stories relay impacts from climate change, COVID-19

March 1, 2021
Tad Segal, (202) 572-3549

(WASHINGTON – Mar. 1, 2021) At World Ocean Summit today, Environmental Defense Fund launched “Portraits of Change,” a new eight-part video series to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and other stressors on fishers, fish workers and fishing communities across the globe.

These videos provide a powerful firsthand account of the battles faced by fishers and fish workers as they are faced with declining fish populations, increasingly common extreme weather events and disruptions due to climate change, COVID-19 and other stressors.  

“‘Portraits of Change’ offers us a glimpse into the lives of fishers and their communities as they battle the effects of climate change, COVID-19 and other challenges,” said Kate Bonzon, VP for Oceans Global Initiatives. “These are their stories, told in their own words, and they underscore the critical importance of tackling climate change and providing new solutions to increase ocean resilience. They also reveal the remarkable tenacity, creativity and resilience for which fishers have long been known.”

Today, roughly 3 billion people rely on fish as an essential source of protein, and nearly a billion people rely on fish for micronutrients that they cannot get from any other food source. Furthermore, hundreds of millions of people — from fishermen to seafood processors — depend on fish for their livelihoods. But our oceans face major threats that diminish their ability to support the communities that rely on them. Between overfishing, habitat loss, climate change and even COVID-19, fishers are increasingly fighting an uphill battle to protect their primary food source and livelihoods.

“Every step we take, we need to think of our children, of our nephews, our grandkids. What kind of Mexico, what kind of world, what kind of seas and oceans are we leaving them?” said Ernesto Gastelum, a featured fisher from Mexico. “The present and the future of fishing is in our hands.”

“The ocean is number one for me. It is important,” said Suhendra, a crab fisher from Indonesia. “The life of my family depends on the ocean. I can send my children to school by catching fish. That is why we have to protect the ocean. If the ocean is damaged or sick, there will be nothing left for our children.” 

Portraits of Change features fishers from Mexico, Peru, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia and the U.S. who have partnered with EDF on fishery projects and operate in key fishing communities in tropical zones across the globe. Each video was recorded on the fisher’s personal camera phones to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. EDF produced “Portraits of Change” to demonstrate to policymakers how climate change and other stressors affect individuals and communities and to underscore the need for reforms.

“Portraits of Change” can be watched here.  

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 2.5 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund