LAST MAN FISHING is a cinematic look at the vastly changing seafood system through the lens of small-scale fishermen across the United States. Narrated by best-selling author Mark Bittman, the film explores the dichotomy between the industrial model and sustainable fishing methods that focus on conservation and quality.
Among the fishermen profiled is renegade New Englander Tim Rider, whose dream of supporting his family as a fisherman is met with numerous challenges. His story parallels that of Darius Kasperzak, a jig boat fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska, who seeks to build infrastructure for a struggling small boat fleet.
Filmmaker JD Schuyler weaves a collection of intimate stories from coastal communities with expert interviews to portray the complex struggle between corporate giants and family fishers. Produced in part by veteran filmmaker Matt Wechsler (SUSTAINABLE), and featuring conservationist Carl Safina and author Paul Greenberg, LAST MAN FISHING calls to question the ethics of the seafood industry and its impact on small-scale fishing across the United States.
Tim Rider is a commercial fisherman on the f/v Finlander and co-founder of New England Fishmongers, a direct to consumer seafood company. He is an outspoken advocate for equity in the New England Groundfish Catch Share program. He has been featured on NPR, Food & Wine, and local media outlets.
Linda Behnken began fishing in 1982, starting as a crew member on a number of different longline, troll, and crab boats, fishing the waters from Sitka to the Bering Sea, and eventually bought her own small commercial fishing boat. In 1991, Linda became the Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. In 1992, she was appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and served three consecutive three-year terms. During that time, she also served as an industry advisor to the North Pacific Anadramous Fish Commission, the National Academy of Science Individual Fishing Quota Review Panel, and co-chaired the Council’s Essential Fish Habitat committee. Currently, Linda is the Board chair of two other Alaska-based non-profits: the Halibut Coalition and the Island Institute. Linda has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a graduate degree from Yale University. She lives in Sitka and has a 40-foot troller/longliner call F/V Woodstock, which she fishes with her spouse and two sons, who have been on the boat since they were 5 months old.
Aaron Longton was born and raised in Roseburg, Oregon, as the son of a river boat manufacturer. He started fishing as soon as he could hold a rod and reel. His first commercial experience was aboard the f/v Donna Rae in 1992. He purchased his first commercial boat in 2000 he now trolls for salmon and tuna, longlines for groundfish, and uses rod and reel in the nearshore for lingcod, cabezon, kelp greenling and other nearshore rockfish species. He believes that our local fishing livelihood depends on a mix of conservation, maintaining access to the resource, and a durable and direct fisher-to-consumer market strategy.
Carl Safina’s work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, and is founding president of the not-for-profit organization, The Safina Center. He hosted the 10-part PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. His writing appears in The New York Times, Audubon, Orion, and other periodicals and on the Web at National Geographic News and Views, Huffington Post, and CNN.com.
Lee van der Voo is an award-winning investigative and environmental journalist. Her 2016 book The Fish Market, which chronicles the gentrification of the sea in the name of sustainable seafood, won an Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Reuters, The New York Times, High Country News, The Atlantic.com, Slate, The Guardian and others. Lee’s reporting has been supported by significant awards and fellowships, including the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Lizzie Grossman Grant for Environmental Health Reporting.
Cuts and cancellations are causing anxiety for crab fisheries. “I’m scared,” said Simeon Swetzof, mayor of St. Paul, a central Bering Sea island with considerable crab dependence. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” The Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the 2016-17 Bairdi or tanner crab season on Oct. 5, following a 15 percent cut in the harvest quota for Bristol Bay red king crab and a 50 percent cut in the snow crab fishery. Without intervention from the Alaska Board of Fisheries, requested by tanner crab stakeholders, the millions of pounds and millions of dollars of Bairdi will remain in the sea.
Leesa Cobb is the Executive Director of the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT), a fishermen-led organization which combines ocean education, conservation, local knowledge, and science into programs to help the community thrive. POORT is the nonprofit that owns the for-profit Port Orford Sustainable Seafood. Leesa is passionate about the social and economic problems that her community has faced since the collapse of the timber industry in the 1980’s. She believes no one is coming to bail out Port Orford; that successful economic and social ideas have to come from the community. Leesa’s motto is “let your faith be bigger than your fear”.
Marsh Skeele is a second-generation commercial fisherman in Sitka, Alaska. He is the vice-president of Sitka Salmon Shares, a direct to consumer business providing sustainable seafood to the midwest. His work focuses on developing a traceable seafood supply chain that provides a fair price to fisherman and sustainable products to consumers.
Paul Greenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish, American Catch, and The Omega Principle. A regular contributor to the Times and many other publications, Greenberg is the winner of a James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and the writer-in-residence at the Safina Center. He has been featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, TED, and PBS’s Frontline.
JD is a filmmaker who believes in the power of media to inspire change. Growing up on a state park, he learned an appreciation for the outdoors that he carries into his life and work today. He has since married his career with a passion for environmental and food justice issues. For the last 5 years, he has worked in Alaska on issues related to commercial fishing, mining, and forest conservation. His passion for protecting ecosystems keeps him focused on the next story. LAST MAN FISHING is his feature directorial debut, stepping outside his tenure as a producer of client driven short film projects. He dreams of starting a bison farm with his family and rewilding his home state of Indiana.
Kelley has a passion to bring justice to the food system after being involved with food and farming for many years. Combining this with a desire to tell meaningful stories, she created Farm Stories, a series of photo essays about farmers and food producers who encourage healthy stewardship of our bodies, communities, and earth. Farm Stories has taken Kelley abroad to England and France, and domestically to California, Michigan, and Indiana.
Mark Bittman is the author of 20 acclaimed books, including the How to Cook Everything series, the award-winning Food Matters, and The New York Times number-one bestseller, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00. For more than two decades his popular and compelling stories appeared in the Times, where he was ultimately the lead food writer for the Sunday Magazine and became the country’s first food-focused Op-Ed columnist for a major news publication. Throughout his career Bittman has strived for the same goal: to make the food, in all its aspects, understandable.
Matt Wechsler is an award winning documentarian, sustainable food activist and urban farmer from Evanston, Illinois. His 2016 film, SUSTAINABLE, is now available on Netflix and received the 2016 Accolade Global Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Achievement. His 2012 New York Emmy-nominated documentary, DIFFERENT IS THE NEW NORMAL, aired nationally on PBS and was narrated by Michael J. Fox. His most recent film, RIGHT TO HARM, premiered at the 2019 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
Nicolaas Mink is co-founder and president of Sitka Salmon Shares, a direct-to-consumer seafood company that supports the country’s largest community supported fishery (CSF). Before becoming a fishmonger, he spent more than a decade in academia, earning a PhD in history, with an affiliation with the Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He taught in the fields of food systems, environmental studies, and history, holding appointments at Northwestern University, Butler University, Knox College, and several campuses in the University of Wisconsin system. His research on food systems has been published widely. He’s been honored with grants and awards from the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.
Ever since Susan helped the IL EPA start changing policy in 2009 to allow food scraps for composting she has had a passion for good local policy decisions. Susan has 12 years experience in private equity at one of the nation’s largest single family offices, Henry Crown & Company. Her tenure included oversight of the portfolio company, Red Crown Productions, and its five-year independent film activity representing seven films and $25 million in aggregate film budgets. Susan is also an Advisor to Sitka Salmon Shares, a CSF that is featured in Last Man Fishing. Susan holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. degree in Accounting and Finance from Drake University.
Michael Lahey is a documentary filmmaker, producer, and editor based in Chicago, IL. His first film,Tugs Untied, won the Best of Arizona Award at the Arizona International Film Festival. Michael’s next doc, Making Waves, won the Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival and the Great Lakes Independent Film Festival. In 2015, he co-produced and edited the documentary Selected, which premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival, and he recently completed his third film, Shelf Life: The Story of Lanzi Candy. Michael has edited programs for PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel and National Geographic Channel, among others. He grew up in DeKalb, IL, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Film and Literature from Northern Illinois University. In 2004, he founded his production company, Jump Cut Films.