To all our sponsors, supporters, colleagues, friends, and family:
This adventure would not have been possible without you. It wasn't always easy but you kept us motivated. Thanks to all your support, we successfully launched Vey nou Lagon one month ago already. The movie has been received with excitement way beyond what we could have had imagined.
Vey nou Lagon is two years of beautiful memories, meaningful conversations, memorable encounters, and a lot of hard word. Sharing our baby to the world was nerve-racking; we didn't really know what to expect! But, once again, you reassured us!
It was heart-warming to see so many of you -- ministers, diplomates, artists, teachers and heads of school, representatives from the hotel and tourism industry, NGOs, CSR Foundations, private sector leaders, fishers, family, friends, neighbors, as well as the press -- at the premiere. You arrived in waves, and early. And even though we were hiding to practice our speech, you somehow found us, to congratulate us and wish us the best of luck.
So, thank you. Thank you for being there for us. Thank you for being there for Vey nou Lagon. We are not event planners, nor public speakers. We are fillmmakers and ocean advocates and we could not be more grateful to all the people behind-the-scenes who planned, tested, printed, designed, rehearsed with us, and made these events a huge success.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, DVDs of Vey nou Lagon are now on sale in Mauritius at Monoprix Bagatelle, Curepipe, and Cascavelle. Stay stuned for more selling locations soon.
Vey nou Lagon is not only an idea, not only a film, but also a movement. We are so motivated by all the people the movie has inspired, and we hope you are encouraged too to be part of the movement and to contribute in your own way to the protection of our lagoons.
The success of this movie will depend on you. Be part of the wave! Share Georgie's message, host a screening, give the DVD to your friends. Let's all work together to "redonn nou lagon so rissess."
If you have missed some of the articles and videos that have come out about the film, here they are! We are so grateful for the incredible support everybody has provided, especially during the first week of May, the launch of Vey nou Lagon in Mauritius. More screenings are getting organized and if you would like to host your own screening feel free to contact us!
On August 10, the day of the official closure of octopus fishing in Rodrigues, I took my 2x4 to see what fishers were doing around the island. In Petite Butte, a group of women locally referred to as “piqueuses d’ourites” (octopus fishers) caught my attention. Mrs. Marlène Marlin started fishing when she was very young and like most people in Rodrigues, she relies on octopus for a living. That Monday morning however, she was not going out on the water. She explained to me:
“Zordi la mo p travail alternatif fermtir la pess ourite. Mo p netoy o nivo lenvironmen. Coupe bann arbre, ramass bann plastik, tou bann dessé ki nou trouvé ki pa degradab nou p ramassé, nou p netoyé pou couma dire sa ruisso la li adapté avec la mer, pou saleté pa al dan la mer. Et kan debormen aussi couma dire li pa afecter nou jardin, pou sa ki nou pe travail.”
“Today I am taking part in alternative activities while the octopus fishing season is closed. I am cleaning up our environment. This includes trimming trees, picking up plastic, as well as all the trash that is lying around and that is not degradable. We are clearing up this stream so it does not take all this trash with it in the ocean. The stream is also affected by the ebb and flow of ocean tides and precipitations, so if it overflows, this trash will end up in our backyards.”
Every year, octopus fishers work on alternative activities to clean their environment and make their island a more enjoyable place to live. Pay is not much, but Marlène explained that they are doing it for their own benefit.
“Couma dire noune enrezistré noune signe enn contra pou 30 jour, nou ena 15 jour travail dan enn moi pou fermtir la pess en atendan ki nou laiss nou ourite ponn pou nou gaign pli boucou production dan nou la mer. Parski si nou alé la si nou ale la pess nou pou touy tou mama ourite nou pa pou gaign ourite, li pa pou reprodui. Parski ourite li enn produi si ou pa laiss li ponn ou pou ale pik li ou pou tire tou so dizef nou em ki pou perdi.”
“So we signed up and have a contract for 30 days. We have 15 paid work days each month during the fishing closure, while we leave the octopus to reproduce and the eggs to hatch so that we can have a richer and more productive sea. If we go fishing at this time of the year, we will kill all the females before they’ve had a chance to lay their eggs. If the eggs don’t hatch, there won’t be any baby octopus that grow and reproduce. Octopus is a renewable resource, but if you don’t let it reproduce or if you catch a female with all its eggs, it’s only at our loss.”
Marlène believes than closing the fishery for two months is crucial for the populations to replenish. She was excited to tell me about what will happen when they reopen fishing in October:
“Ourite, kan nou pou ariver nou pou ale la pes nou pou gaign pli bocou ourite! Haha! [...] bann peser ti amene gro ourite meme nou nou emerveillé kan nou trouvé. Avan, nou alé nou gaign zis 2 livre, aster pessere vini avec 100 livre, 200 livre, bocou ourite!”
“When we will go back to fishing, we will catch so much more octopus! Haha! [...] fishers have brought back octopus so big that even we, who grew up fishing, are amazed just looking at them. Before the closure, we used to go out and bring back only about 2 pounds of octopus. After the closure, fishers come back with 100 pounds, 200 pounds, so much octopus!”
Marlène and all the women working that morning are very supportive of their government’s initiative. Once fishing reopens, they will be able to catch larger octopus in greater quantities. They will be able to feed their families and sell some more at the local market, something that was becoming a real struggle only four years ago.
“Mwa dan mo lepok, la mo pou gaign 54 ans le 10 aout, dans laz 11 ans kan mwa mone al koumens la peche, kot nou p deboute la, ti cav gaigne 15-20 livres ourites en place. 1, 2, 3, 4 ourite ensem ensem. Ou soizir! Ou soizir ki ou pou piker, ki ou pou tir dan la mer. Zordi zour peser pa soizir ourite, paski kifer? Li pou tir li kan meme li tipti pou li viv avec sa. Kombien dimoune pou laisse li? 2, 3 dimoune. Mé 5-6 dimoune derier li pou tir tipti la pou li viv. Pe ete dan ene 2 ans, 3 ans enkore, 4 ans, 5 ans si pas pren ene mesure kouma bizin, ourite va disparaitre.” -- Louis Moutienne, peser Rodrigues.
“Back in the day, when I was 11 (I am turning 54 on August 10), when I started fishing, I could find 15 to 20 pounds of octopus where we are standing now. There would be 1, 2, 3,4 octopus living together. You could choose! You could choose which one you would take home, which one you would take out of the sea. Today, fishers don’t choose anymore. Why? A fisher will take even a little one home, so that he can live. How many fishers will let the little ones in the sea? 2 or 3 maybe. But then 5 or 6 people behind will come and take that little one. If we continue like this what will happen? Maybe in 2, 3, or 4 or 5 more years, if we don’t take the right measures, octopus will disappear.” -- Louis Moutienne, fisherman in Rodrigues.
In Rodrigues, an autonomous outer island of Mauritius, fishing for ourites (local name for octopus) has been a tradition, a profession, and part of the lifestyle for generations.
However, in recent years, the limited employment opportunities in other sectors led to an increase in the number of ourite fishers. The unregulated nature of the fishery has inevitably led to the decline of the stock of ourites, mainly due to catches of small, immature ones.
Today, for the fourth consecutive year, Rodrigues is closing the ourite fishing season for two months, between August 10 and October 10. Following the first temporary closure in 2012, annual catches of octopus were almost back to their levels in 2003 after 15 years of decline.
Moreover, the first temporary octopus closed season successfully showed that it is possible for different stakeholders to effectively work together towards sustainably managing the fishery, while also deriving substantial profits.
How do you fish for ourites? We spent two mornings with fishers in Rodrigues learning how to fish for ourites. We very quickly realized that it requires many skills, including patience, dexterity, and good vision.
Fishers usually go out looking for ourites at low tide, which is often i the early morning hours. You have to walk carefully on reef flats, being aware where you step, and making sure you don't crush “lacaz poisson” (corals, referred to as fish’s homes). In the deeper parts of the lagoon, you can also fish for ourites from a boat and using handle long spears.
Using a metal stick, you search the dens, where octopus find shelter. Ourites are amazing animals. They can change color, texture, and shape. They are experts at camouflage and take the color of sand, corals, and rocks that surround them and blend in. Ourite can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks and disappear behind a cloud of ink. Fishers often don’t see the ourites themselves, but notice the air bubbles they release to try to scare intruders away.
Moreover, ourites have a recognizable way of tending to their dens. They use pebbles and shells to block out the entrance and hide themselves in. A trained eye knows how to identify ourite dens.
What happens when the octopus fishing season is closed? Ourites live short lives. The longest octopus lifespan is three to four years, and most of the smaller ourites die after about six months to a year. They grow fast to adult size and only reproduce once. After mating, males soon die. Females lay from fifty to tens of thousands of eggs and tend them faithfully, keeping them well oxygenated, clean, and protected from predators. After the eggs hatch, the females die.
When the fishing season is closed, ourites have time to reproduce and grow. The closure is for 2 months, usually between August and October, when the eggs hatch. Ourite populations increase, and individual ourites also increase in size and weight.
Meanwhile, fishers are offered alternative activities co-financed by the Rodrigues authorities and SmartFish. The activities cover a wide range of work from beach clean ups, to planting vegetables and endemic plants, invasive plant control and the maintenance of riverbeds and reservoirs.
Additional activities are also organized in collaboration with the rangers of the South East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA), including monitoring of the net fishery, maintenance of buoys in the protected area, and surveillance of the lagoon.
As a fisherman in Rodrigues told us:
“Nou bizin conscient ki kan p fair ene zafair pou la mer, dan la mer, c pou nou. C pou nou gagne pain. Nou em nou bizin protez la mer.”
“We must realize that when we are protecting the sea, it’s for ourselves. It’s for our livelihood. We need to protect the sea and we need to do it ourselves.”
Congratulations, Rodrigues on this fourth consecutive temporary closure! We look forward to celebrating the re-opening of the fishing season on October 10. Till then, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more about ourites, fishers’ experience both in Mauritius and in Rodrigues, results from the fourth closure, and much more!
Many of our fans have asked us: “Oh you’re done filming the whole movie? When can I see it?!” Our answer, May 2016, often comes as a surprise. Yes, indeed, there are at least another 9 months of work before the release of the movie.
What still needs to be done between now and when the movie comes out? Read the quick overview of the progress of the film so far and of our next steps and we’ll all be in the same boat.
Since the production ended, we have have been organizing the footage we have collected. In these 11 days of production, we have filmed 11 hours of interview and another 30 hours of underwater shots, drone shots, and B-roll. B-roll refers to action shots that we will use to illustrate the words of our interviewees.
For the camera geeks out there, we used a digital Bolex B16 that shoots in RAW. This means that after offloading the files from the camera to the computer, we also had to transcode them into proxy files, to make it easier for post-production work.
In addition to transferring the video and sound files on the computer, we also have to put the interviews on paper. Schéhérazade Deedarun is being of wonderful help working on the interview transcriptions. Meanwhile, Vanina and our editor Jon Rabaud are logging all the footage.
We hope to finish the media management tasks by mid-August. Once that step is completed, we will be able to start working on the script. Working on the script entails including to the text sounds bites from the interview transcriptions and minutes of the shots we have logged.
Editing can start as soon as the script is finalized, hopefully by the end of August. We are aiming to have a first assembly to work with by the end of September. Our editor will be in Mauritius, and we will be in D.C. We expect that working together, across the world from each other, will slow us down a little.
The first assembly will enable us to work towards the rough cut. The rough cut will be longer than the actual movie, but will give us an idea of the succession of scenes. The fine cut will be the right length (26 minutes, the broadcast standard) and structure, but will still need fine tuning. Once the fine cut is finalized, the next step will be the final cut. After we all agree on the final cut, the film will be picture-locked and ready for color correction, sound design, music composition, and closed-captioning. The film will be translated and subtitled in French and English and packaged for delivery.
The final film is designed to be distributed on Mauritian public television. It will also be available on DVD, screened in villages and schools in Mauritius, and at film festivals worldwide. If you are interested in screening the film in your community, region, or country, do not hesitate to contact us.
While the movie is in post-production, we are also simultaneously working on building a platform to bring us together. If you haven’t already, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!
In the meantime, we are also keeping in touch with sponsors and applying for grants. We are still raising funds for the distribution stage of the movie. You can help us by making a tax-deductible contribution. To do so, please visit our donation page: http://www.wifv.org/about/donate/ (scroll down for Vey nou Lagon)
Thank you all again for your continued interest and support! Keep an eye out for updates on post-production and previews of the film!
After 11 wonderfully productive days of filming in Mauritius and Rodrigues, it’s a wrap!
Last Friday marked the last day of main production of Vey nou Lagon. For the past two weeks, we drove all around Mauritius and Rodrigues, collecting stories from fishers who know the intricacies of our lagoons better than anyone else and are living the changes first hand.
We were taught how to ‘kass zuitres’ (pick oysters) and the skills needed to ‘pik zourites’ (fish octopus). We learned that if you want to film octopus fishers coming back with their catch of the day, you have to run to them as soon as they get off their boat because by the time they reach the beach… all the octopus is already sold! We met the most enthusiastic group of kids, who cleaned the Poste Lafayette beach at the speed of lightning and filled 10 bags of 110L in 10 minutes! Finally, we now really feel what it means to have a job that relies completely on weather, especially in winter. Fortunately, we also adopted the fishers’ positive attitude and with a lot of dawn starts, daily rescheduling, and always being ready to jump on opportunities, we captured fascinating stories that we are excited to share with you soon.
Before we dive in and start sharing with you the many stories we have collected, we would like to give a big shout out to our Production team. Production would not have been possible without their hard-work, dedication, and flexibility.
We will be putting all of them individually in the spotlight on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this week, but for now, here’s a quick introduction to our all star crew.
Azim Moollan -- Director of Photography Azim initially started his career as a Documentary film-maker in London. He continued with documentary work in the Southern African region.
Since attending the New York Film Academy for a Cinematography Diploma, Azim has been working as a Director of Photography on films, commercials, music videos and other more experimental work.
Gérald Rambert -- Underwater cinematographer Gérald was born in Mauritius and grew up in the northern region of the island. After the French Lycée, he worked for four years in agricultural research and development before pursuing his dream to dive. He started training to become a scuba instructor in 2001, and has since then organized underwater photography competitions in Mauritius, started working with magazines, and published a book (Mauritius Underwater).
Gérald also teaches underwater photography and led some workshops in Indonesia and Komodo. He is also the part owner of Sun Divers ltd, on the west part of the island. He is now based there almost year round and dives nearly everyday.
Have a look at his pictures on his website: www.geraldrambert.com
Flying Freaks -- Drone Imagery Flying Freaks is a young, talented and passionate team of aerial cinematographers. Located in Mauritius, their mission is to use their high tech drones to provide aerial images and videos that sweep you off your feet.
We are lucky to have had team members Manveesh Seenauth and Guneshen Guillaume join us!
Kjell van Sice -- Stills photographer As an avid distance ocean paddler, surfer, kiteboarder and free diver, Kjell is both a representative of the ocean community and well-equipped for creating defining water imagery.
At only 19, the Hawaii-raised artist has work published in both domestic and international magazines, images used by environmental organizations, and prints shown in fine art galleries.
Although currently based in Pasadena, California where he majors in photography at the Art Center College of Design, Kjell also spends his time in Hawaii and Mauritius.
Once again, waves of thank yous to Azim, Gerald, Manveesh and Guneshen of Flying Freaks, and Kjell, as well as all the people we met during these two weeks and who have shared their stories with us.
Many of you have been asking about when the movie will be released. In our next blog, we will give you an overview of what post-production work will include and what still needs to be done before the movie is released, in May 2016.
The countdown has started. 2 oceans, 22 hours, and 16,400 kilometers between now and Mauritius. I am on my way from Washington, D.C. to meet Vanina at home.
Tomorrow is a big day for us! After a year of hard work, we are ready to begin the production of Vey nou Lagon.
This past year has included a lot of the behind the scenes pre-production work, from deciding on the approach of the movie and writing the script, talking to sponsors and writing grant applications, to launching our website and social media platform. This past year also included a scouting trip to Mauritius, during which we met with different stakeholders, including fishers, coast guards, NGO representatives, scientists, members of the government, and citizens.
We have come a long way since last June and we are very excited to start filming the movie, tomorrow! Vanina and I and the rest of the crew are meeting Georgie at the public beach of Poste Lafayette, on the east coast of Mauritius at 6:45 in the morning. Just in time for sunrise!
Georgie is a professional fisherman, but he hoped of a better future for his children. Living off the ocean is not sustainable anymore. While his father raised 11 children from working as a full time fisherman, Georgie is the father of two and works three jobs to make ends meet. What has happened to ocean?
We look forward to gathering different pieces of the story for you over the next two weeks.
Join us as we get to know Georgie and his family, explore the shoreline, the lagoons, and the underwater world of Mauritius and Rodrigues. Come with us to meet and learn from the tourism industry and from artisanal fishermen of the Western Indian Ocean.
Follow our adventures! Like Vey nou Lagon’s page on Facebook, retweet our posts, and follow us on Instagram @veynoulagon.
Finally, we would like to thank National Geographic, Trimetys, and Air Mauritius for their support in making these next two weeks possible.
Zara: “Like all Mauritians, I love octopus salad. I will always remember finding a baby octopus on a drifting piece of plastic in the lagoon. For days, I could not stop wondering how it was going to survive facing all the dangers of the oceans. It was so delicate a wave could tear one of its arm out, so tiny a crab could eat it in one bite. It made me realize how important it is to protect the baby ones, so that they can grow to sustain an island nation."
Vanina: “My favorite memory of growing up in Mont Choisy is the 10-year-old me sitting in the sand and looking for tec-tecs. These small shells are so delicious fried in garlic! I love them. Unfortunately, today, I can only find tiny ones that I don’t collect in the hope that they grow to their adult size so that one day I can enjoy eating them again. ”
We never fully realized the value of the role the ocean plays in our lives until we left Mauritius. We have learned about the current threats to our oceans. Going back home every year we noticed little changes with big implications. It’s not like it used to be and we are now committed to protecting our island nation and its lagoons.
A year ago, we started working together on Vey nou Lagon and we are very excited to share our progress and what we are learning along the way with you.
As Mauritians, we are inherently tied to the ocean, but ensuring healthy oceans is not solely an issue of concern to islanders. Sustainable oceans are essential to sustaining life and livelihoods and are considered a key part of the global food security solution.
As citizens, our daily actions have a direct impact on the underwater environment, and taking simple steps can make a significant difference.
Around the world and throughout our island, there are passionate and dedicated people who are oceans’ heroes. We are inspired and motivated by the many fishermen, divers in the tourism industry, and citizens who are taking inspirational actions on a daily basis that have a significant positive impact on our lagoons, our lifestyles, and our country’s well-being.
Like other small islands around the world, Mauritius requires only the right tools and partnerships to protect our environment, grow our economy, and enrich livelihoods.
We can all be part of the solution, Mauritians and citizens of the world.
Vey nou Lagon will provide support and foster awareness and understanding in driving community involvement with the ocean towards a sustainable future.
We believe that an inspirational film in the voice of a local traditional artisanal fisherman and with testimonials from fishermen from Rodrigues will be an effective step in engaging the community further.
We are delighted to announce the launch of our website and social media platform today, that will allow for people from Mauritius and around the world to interact and be part of the much needed discussion, to find the appropriate solutions for a more sustainable future.
We are on our way back to Mauritius to film and start the production stage of Vey nou Lagon. Join us on this exciting adventure! Follow our progress, meet the people we meet, discover or rediscover our lagoons with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and through our blog. Share the information with your friends and colleagues and if you would like to donate, there is a link on our website to our fiscal sponsor page, Women in Film and Video, that allows for tax-deductible donations.
What will you do to protect our lagoons?
Together, we can create waves of change. Together, let’s Vey nou Lagon.