a documentary about beached dolphins and the confrontation between Sea Sheperd and fishermen

Over the past few years, the non-governmental organization Sea Shepherd has warned with shocking photos of the slaughter of common dolphins washed ashore due to what it says is overfishing. At the forefront of the accused fishermen, who rather cause the recent spread of the species. Director Maturin Pesce explored this phenomenon and the evolution of the image of the dolphin.

Since December 1, 2021, 474 dead dolphins have been found on the Atlantic coast by the “national beach network”.

Today, the dolphin has become a symbol of the marine world, which must be preserved. But it was not always so.

The presence of dolphins in coastal waters has been interpreted in different ways by the marine population over the past centuries. At the end of the 19th century, these mammals were declared the scourge of fishing. Therefore, their hunting was recommended by the communities of fishing bosses, and no one was interested in protecting them.

Director Maturin Pesce made several films linking the relationship between humans and animals, both in agriculture and in fishing. His filmAbout dolphins and people“Aimed at documenting the Coastal case and co-produced by Aligala, she asks questions from both the Sea Shepherd NGO and scientists, historians and fishermen. Excerpt from the documentary Des dauphins et des hommes:




video duration: 01 min 39

extract from dolphins and people



© Maturin Peshet

How and why to be interested in this situation, which pits fishermen against the Sea Shepherd, around dolphins?

It started after an anti-fishing tag was found near my house in Douarnenez. It was published: “Killer fishermen, pray for dolphins.”

I was challenged by this image, quite cruel. I started doing historical research and found early 20th century photographs of fishermen proudly posing with dead dolphins as a “trophy”. At that time, the dolphin was considered an unpleasant animal. He destroyed the nets and was accused, for example, of reducing the supply of sardines in the Gulf of Douarnenez. Eradication campaigns were even organized, sometimes supported by the army. Until the mid-1970s, dolphins were sold at fishmongers’ stalls, especially on Yu Island, where they continued to be eaten until recently.

Our view of the dolphin completely changed in the early 80s, and it is this change that interests me. In the film, we see both what is happening today and what happened 100 years ago.

Several of your films deal with the relationship between humans and animals or nature, in the case of the dolphin, how can this evolution be explained?

You have to take into account different parameters. The changes are primarily sociological. After the Second World War, a new type of population appears, which gradually settles or becomes interested in the coast, away from the world of fishermen and peasants. Sociologist Daniel Faget explains this phenomenon very well.

In the 1950s, the proliferation of paid vacations and automobiles allowed more people to discover the sea. Something unprecedented in modern times, its underside can now be seen thanks to advances in underwater exploration. Then a second unknown world opens up on the planet, the resulting spaces of which are now fully explored.

At the same time, there is a cultural movement that was born with the release of the Cousteau and Louis Malle film.” Silent world “, the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1956 and a book by Robert Merle” sentient animal The dolphin is a curious animal that easily approaches boats and people. This definitely makes it cute. It has evolved from a “harmful” species to an animal totem that needs to be protected.

Is the increase in these catches in fishing nets threatening the dolphin today?

Accidental captures of dolphins in the Atlantic zone concern mainly common dolphins, which are still not endangered. But these captures are in real magnification.

Scientists at the Pelagie Institute in La Rochelle are trying to understand why there are more dolphins in the nets. This is mainly due to the movement of dolphins, which now come closer to the coast and therefore to fishing areas. Gillnets and pelagic shipyards are in the line of fire in this case. This is the main purpose of associations such as Sea Shepherd.

What do associations like Sea Shepherd demand?

She wants a complete cessation of fishing in certain areas and at certain times of the year, which is not profitable for fishermen. However, it is very difficult to get accurate estimates of the number of dolphins living in the North Atlantic. Last year, trawlers were forced to put pingers in their nets, an acoustic repellent that can only work when dolphins approach. According to the fishermen, the method is effective. Sea Shepherd is much more critical and doesn’t hesitate to use the strong side sometimes. The Association makes no secret of this, this highly publicized fight to ban fishing is also a way of advocating for the idea of ​​a “vegan” world led by Sea Shepherd.

To see Sunday at 12:55 in the Maritimes on France 3 Brittany:

About Dolphins and Humans. Directed by Maturin Pesce, co-produced by Aligal

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