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May 22, 2015 8:13 AM ET

Archived: FINdonesia, a Documentary: Taking a closer look at the impact of unregulated fishing of marine mega fauna in Indonesia

iCrowdNewswire - May 22, 2015

FINdonesia, a Documentary

Taking a closer look at the impact of unregulated fishing of marine mega fauna in Indonesia.
Mark Thorpe


I set out on a path just over a year and a half ago to document local fishing communities in Indonesia. As an Ocean lover, SCUBA Diver and marine conservationist I wanted to see for myself what the impact, if any, a country with one of the World’s densest populations, a large part of whom depend on the Ocean for their daily sustenance, was having on the regional marine life. What I found shocked me to the core.

I’m an Emmy winning underwater and wildlife cameraman. I have spent the most part of my working life, since leaving military service in 1994, in the pursuit of imagery to compliment International broadcast and production projects. During that time I have, and continue to, self produce short films predominantly with a conservation message linked to them. Three of these films to date have either won high profile International Film Festival awards or been selected as official entrants for other prestigious screenings.

This particular project will help reinforce the message that we simply cannot keep taking for granted that which the Ocean provides. Local resources can only support local populations IF they are managed correctly. It is sad to state that throughout my filming all I could see was the drive by certain elements to take as much as they could from the local resources in order to supply International demand. In effect taking the food out of the mouths of the families of the men catching the commodity.

Below; Fishing vessels await departure – Tanjung Luar, Lombok

What is Needed?

All of the filming for the Indonesian side of things is now complete. I have run two Crowdfunding drives for this project to date, with a total budget requirement of US$75,000 I managed to raise a total of US$28,005 leaving a shortfall ofUS$46,995. With a current supporting of some 236 backers to date the underlying feeling is to push through with this final drive for the remainder of the shortfall.

Where will the Money be spent?

Whilst there is some sterling work being done by wonderful people in certain areas of Indonesia, and who feature in this film, it is sad to say that these entities are very much the minority. Very much in evidence throughout the archipelago is the feeling that every person is out for themselves with little, if any, regard for others or for the impact their actions may have on the local marine environment. Needless to say whilst there is some marine based tourism throughout Indonesia it is a tourism aspect which doesn’t seem to figure in the daily lives of the majority of coastal living communities. For this reason I want to compare Indonesia with the Republic of Palau.

Very much seen as a leading light in the modern day Ocean conservation drives Palau was the first nation to declare its territorial waters a shark sanctuary back in September of 2009, it is also a place in which I lived for almost four years. A large part of the Palauan population is involved directly or indirectly with the burgeoning Ocean related tourism on which the local economy thrives. One of the major ‘pulls’ of Palau with the International SCUBA Diving fraternity is that it remains as one of the few remaining locations on Earth where one can interact with a wide diversity of Shark and other enigmatic marine species, such as manta Rays and Turtles, on an almost daily basis.

In order to conclude this project I need to cover the costs for the following key eventualities;

  • Costs for 2 weeks filming in Palau including Helicopter aerial sequences
  • Final Documentary Soundtrack
  • Final ‘look’ or grading of the documentary
  • Initial DVD product run of 1000 educational and marketing units.
  • Marketing artwork and packaging
  • *Perk Shipping Costs
  • International Film Festival Entry Fees
  • Associated travel costs for festival attendance
  • Licensing Associated Fees

*There remain some perks, T-Shirts, to be shipped from the previous round of crowdfunding which will be collectively administered once this round is complete.

What do you get out of this?

Other than the feelgood factor of being involved with this project simply as an Ocean or marine life lover here is the list of perks I have set up for this final push.

  1.  A US$25 donation gets you listed in the film credits with a Special Thanks.
  2.  A US$75 donation gets you a ‘Postcard from Palau’ sent during the film trip to complete the project imagery requirement.
  3.  A US$275 gets you a fine art print of 60 x 40cm (24″ x 16″) print from a gallery of imagery that will be posted for your selection once the Palau segment has been finalized. You will also be included in the ‘Special Thanks’ credits.
  4.  A US$500 donation gets the previous perks of a postcard and print as well as an ‘Ocean Ambassador’ title in the film credits and a signed DVD of the final film.
  5.  A US$2,500 donation receives the previous postcard, print and DVD perks plus one of two available credits as Associate Producer.
  6.  **A US$5,000 donation receives previous postcard, print and DVD perks as well as the sole credit as ‘Executive Producer’ and an invitation, for one person, to the nearest National film festival screening to their home base. 
  7.  A US$10,000 donation receives all perks plus an invitation, for one person, to be my guest of honor at one of the planned International Film Festivals.

**The final film will be submitted to key wildlife and conservation film festivals throughout North America, Europe and the Pacific region.


All backers are invited by email to join an established private facebook group where some of the more fragile elements of the project are discussed.

Tiger sharks are a SCUBA Diving tourism magnet, not so in Indonesia.

What happens if I don’t hit my funding Goal?

Always the main aspect of crowdfunding. I have selected the option to receive the funds raised irrespective if I reach my goal or not. This is down simply to the fact that there is one more filming segment to complete and all the imagery required will be ‘in the bag’ so to speak. As a working cameraman I will then simply have to look at providing the shortfall in the budget from the income of other projects I work on.

Living and working from a camera is not easy but telling this story to show the world what is happening is a necessity, if not for me then for those who can see the damage that is being done and take steps to correct them, before it’s too late. I may go over my deadlines for perk delivery or it may take longer than planned to piece this intricate web of stories together. All I can say is that this is a story and a message that needs to be seen, that will be seen.

What happens if I go beyond the funding Goal?

In a perfect World this project will resonate with enough people to push the raised funds beyond the amount I’m seeking. In that eventuality any excess funds will go towards my next planned project which will focus on the wildlife poaching crisis in Africa.

The Impact

With your help this film will generate enough media attention for the Indonesian authorities to take notice and enforce the national laws of the land, and waters. Many of the fish markets around the country have very clearly placed posters and signs which illustrate species, such as the Great Hammerheads in the above image and the Manta Ray below, to be off limits to fishermen. These signs tend not to last very long, whilst the killing continues.

  • SHARKS – A much needed element in every healthy marine environment. Regulators of a healthy gene pool they guarantee, to an extent, the health of the local fish populations of the reefs they patrol. Indonesia is constantly seen as a global leader in Shark Fin exports to supply the Asian demand for shark fins for the supposed delicacy of sharks fin soup. Many supposedly protected species are documented in this film being landed openly at regional fish markets.
  • Manta Rays – Nothing can describe the feeling of diving with these sentient beings. With the largest brain size to body mass ratio in the Oceans they truly are spectacular. It is therefore somewhat disturbing to see them increasingly targeted by fishermen for their gills which again figure in certain Asian Medicine recipes as supposed cures for a range of ills from curing Cancer to boosting Male virility. Manta Rays are supposed to be protected throughout Indonesia as of February of 2014. The still frame below was taken from filmed footage realized in August 2014.

Below; A GoPro frame taken from the film shows a Giant Manta Ray having been landed with porters taking the main body for processing – Tanjung Luar, Lombok.

The Kicker

As global human populations explode the demands on our Oceans increase exponentially. Trawlers with nets that can fit 13 Jumbo jets in them hoover up target and non target species from huge swathes of our Oceans on a daily basis. Sharks and other predator populations are in free fall, some species are estimated at being 90% decimated since the 1950’s. Given this scarcity something has to give, and sadly again that signals the demise of yet another enigmatic marine inhabitant, Dolphins.

It has long been known that certain fishing communities around the World actively target cetaceans to use as bait for regional shark fisheries, Indonesia is no different. Often denied by the authorities this documentary has categorical imagery based evidence proving that this activity still takes place in a number of locations.

To Summarize

We are all connected to the Ocean, to the amazing calm it instills when we sit by it’s shores, the invigorating rush of interacting with it for sports and leisure as well as offering us the chance to marvel at it’s beauty below the waves. As a nation the Republic of Indonesia is home to some 280 million people, many of them impoverished and dependent on the Ocean for their daily sustenance. Imagine day in day out the requirement to feed even a conservative 40% of the population, that is still in excess of 100 million people per day eating one fish and a handful of rice. One hundred million fish per day at the minimum, is a huge debit to be expected from an already depleted resource.

This film is not about victimization. It is not intended to paint anyone in a bad light, it is mainly pointing out some facts, some cold hard facts. Unregulated fishing of key species such as sharks and Manta Rays from a local resource will end in that local resource collapsing. With no regulators, disease in fish populations will go unchecked, second tier predators move in and turn the food chain on it’s head with disastrous results.

This film aims to highlight this and in turn offer an option for a country as diverse and naturally blessed as Indonesia a view into what could transpire of their laws were steadfastly enforced for the better of all citizens. And more so for the generations to come…

Ways You Can Help

I’m very much appreciative from the backers to date and also those to come who feel so moved to select one of the Perks as listed on the right hand column of this project. However, and I completely understand, some people just can’t contribute financially but that doesn’t mean they can’t help. Other ways of supporting this project are as follows:

  • Get the word out and make some noise about the campaign.
  • Please use the allocated social media sharing options for this project!
  • If you follow me on any social media channel I ask that you share or RT any updates I make with regards to the project. This increases the potential audience many fold.

Many thanks for the support. With your help we will tell this story to the World and instill a change for the better.

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