Fishing was the first commercial industry in the American colonies, and what first drew settlers to New England. During the past 400 years technological advancements, World Wars, foreign competition, and over fishing have led the industry on a roller coaster ride of extreme highs and lows. But in recent years it has reached a level of crisis more critical than ever before.
I grew up in a recreational boating community and spent many days and nights on the water as a child. As a young adult I worked as a laborer on the Portland waterfront, as a sternman on a lobster boat, and took one three day trip on an offshore trawler. So, my livelihood has never truly depended on fishing, but I understand the appeal of life on the water, and I know first hand the sense of pride a good catch brings.
There is solid evidence that certain fish populations are in serious decline, and some regulatory actions are necessary, but overzealous conservation efforts in the industry are bringing the fishermen themselves closer to extinction. As the fisherman grow more scarce and their vessels rust at the wharf an entire network of processors, wholesalers and shipping agents also suffers. As the revenue stream that this network produces dries to a trickle, the wharves that they occupy become vulnerable to rezoning and at risk of being lost to the fishery forever.
So far Portland has done a fine job of bringing together all interested parties to decide what measures to take. Right now it looks like parts of the waterfront will be preserved for the commercial fishing industry for a long time to come. But the industry as a whole is in such a precarious position nothing is certain. The documentary project I am working on is an important one. I try to believe that fish stocks will bounce back and a way of life will not be lost. But in case of the worst, this project will at least preserve Maine's oldest surviving industry on film.
I'm asking for $2000 to pay for film and processing and buy a new camera lens. I shoot large format sheet film which yields images with fine detail and rich color, but costs around $6 per exposure including processing. Currently I own only one lens. It is a standard 150mm focal length which is very versatile and works great for most of the landscape and portrait images I make. But it does not allow for shooting interiors in tight spaces like on board a fishing vessel or inside a small processing room. A decent wide angle lens goes for around $450 on the used market.
If my goal is reached I should be able to shoot over 200 new images and buy a lens which will allow me to document places that I can't right now. If I surpass my goal it means more images, and the more the better. Don't hesitate to email me at [email protected] with any questions or comments, and please go to www.markmarchesi.com to view images from this project and more. Thanks for your time and support.