Photographer Shares Shocking Images Commercial Fishermen Don't Want You to See

Photographer Shares Shocking Images Commercial Fishermen Don't Want You to See

Brian Raymond, a lifelong fisherman turned shark dive operator and photographer, recently shared some powerful and disturbing images he captured of bycatch in the waters off of southern New England. Bycatch refers to unintended species that are caught while fishing for another species and is a regular occurrence in commercial fishing.

Animals such as sharks, dolphins, turtles, seals, sea birds, and others are often the victims of commercial fishing activities, but usually go undocumented. The images Raymond has shared provide a rare glimpse at events most of us will likely never witness, as the only ones with access to such destruction are generally the fishermen themselves, or other periodic observers such as visitors from NOAA.

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A shark that was caught in the net of a commerical fishing vessel in New England waters

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A dolphin is one of many bycatch species Brian Raymond documented over the course of a year off of Rhode Island

Having spent his childhood working with his family, Raymond always viewed commercial fishing in a positive light but was never aware of its implications. Once he finished school he went straight to work in the in the squid industry. He would be out at sea for up to ten days at a time. While he made a decent living, Raymond felt like something was missing. After an injury put him out of work for nearly an entire year, he had the opportunity to see blue sharks up close, and in a different light.

Once Raymond’s injury healed, he got back to work — but his experience with blue sharks lingered in his heart. That experience shifted his perspective — particularly the bycatch aspect. Raymond said, “I had never been comfortable with the idea of animals dying that we weren’t going to save, but as a fisherman, you have to accept it as part of the job. Now, it became a painful daily reminder of the things that are wrong with the commercial fishing industry — so many animals killed for nothing. However, my feelings put me in a very unique position. I could now use my camera to document what I was seeing in a way that had not been done before. Being a crew member, I had up-close access that would never be given to an outsider. I was now able to show the hidden side of the fishing industry. The ugly stuff that they don’t want you to see.”

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A basking shark caught in a fishing net off of Rhode Island

Mesmerized by his blue shark experience, Raymond went on to co-found Rhode Island Shark Diving with his colleague Joe Romeiro. Today, instead of taking part in an unsustainable venture, Raymond is in his ninth season of taking underwater photographers and snorkelers out to sea for face-to-face encounters with blue and mako sharks off the coast of Rhode Island. I have personally been out with his operation and can understand his affinity for the pelagics he encounters.

At the end of the day, we only protect what we love, and we can only fix the wrongs that we are aware of. Raymond’s images will hopefully shed some light on a very destructive industry and get a conversation going about bycatch. Raymond emphasized the images he documented are simply from one person, on one fishing vessel, over the course of one year — 2011. The following year, Raymond retired from fishing, feeling ashamed of a profession he was once proud to be a part of. He is now pleased to focus his time on an ecotourism venture that promotes conservation.

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A blue shark with a hook in its mouth

As I chatted with Raymond about his images, he mentioned a recent bycatch video captured by a Rhode Island fisherman that had gone viral, even making the local news. In the video, an endangered great white shark had been pulled onto a fishing vessel — after having been caught inside their fishing net. While the endangered shark was lawfully released, Raymond asserts the majority of bycatch are not that lucky.

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64 Comments

If I missed it, I'm sorry, but what's the solution?

David Strauss's picture

Awareness is part of it.

Joanna Lentini's picture

I think the first step, which the images provide is awareness. The next step should be lowering our demand for fish. And of course better enforcement/regulations.

"Lowering our demand for fish". So...stop eating? Enforcement/regulations only helps once you've defined a solution. So...make, and enforce, laws against eating?

Michael McCray's picture

In the rest of the the world a lot of people depend upon fish for their diet.

The problem with awareness, and I've seen this over and over, is the tendency to, having done that, call it a day and congratulate each other on a job well done.

Spy Black's picture

That is the problem, presently there is no real-world solution. Often the fisherman get demonize, which does nothing to help the problem. Although he retired from fishing because he felt bad about what he was doing, he doesn't offer a solution

It would be interesting for some particular technology or technologies to be developed that may at least mitigate or possibly eliminate the problem and allow fishermen to continue with their work.

Some thinking outside of the box is probably needed by fishermen, scientists, and engineers working together. The bigger obstacle can occur when dealing with large corporations that just want to continue running business as usual.

Yeah. The other problem, not mentioned in the article, is the general depletion of various species of fish. It's easy to say, 'don't eat so much fish' but then what? Raise more cattle which get blamed for contributing to climate change? Everyone should become a vegetarian? It's a problem!

user-189304's picture

There is no market based solution. The essay, The Tragedy of the Commons (1960s) coined the phrase "no technical fix problem".

The natural system is on the cusp of an inflection point. In other words, the marine ecosystem will collapse completely in the near future.

2 billion humans rely upon the ocean for survival.

Thanks. I'll sleep a lot better tonight! NOT. :-(

user-189304's picture

I did everything right until about a decade ago, when I realised that our idiot species will not change voluntarily.

I've never done anything right but I've tried...

user-189304's picture

It doesn't matter anymore. We are in an absolutely catastrophic position, and we are still relentlessly pursuing economic growth.

While I'm very environmentally aware and conscientious, I'm also very Christian and based on my world view, it never mattered *that* much.
That's not an invitation to debate, just my POV.

user-189304's picture

It only matters if you have children, or if you believe that our descendants have rights. There's a third category pertaining to otber species, but it's more morally nuanced.

Rob Mynard's picture

ahh Christianity good call, lets all pray that god creates more fish, it worked for gun violence.

If you don't know how something works, you might not realize it is.

William Howell's picture

See I knew your type, if we, the people don’t do like you say, then you and your ideologues are going to force us, most likely at the point of a bayonet.

user-189304's picture

I'm guessing that you are completely blind to the ironical nature of your statement.

Edit: I'm an ideologue because I think our decendants should not have their very existence imperilled by our empty greed...

Let that sink in. Take all the time you need.

William Howell's picture

Let this sink in; Robespierre said terror is the tool to make the Frenchman comply with the new government, thus thousands were sent to the guillotine, Robespierre was on top of the world. Then they came for Robespierre, they came for Robespierre’s brother and anyone else associated with Robespierre, and they where executed by guillotine.
See you think you are a good leftist, but the left loves, I mean just loves eating their own, so beware.
You cannot force people to comply, it won’t work, never has.

user-189304's picture

Somehow you have not only jumped to this sad attempt at a rebuttal - from my broadly stated moral proposition, accompanied by a stated acceptance of the inevitability of the system outcome. But you have also somehow drawn an inference that I'm a "leftist"; despite the fact that I have at no stage stated or implied a political position. In fact, you have no idea what ideology I ascribe to; and even if I told you, you don't have the intellectual foundations to comprehend anyway.

Edit: the sad attempt to associate a morality of "terror" and 'terrorism' with me, and thereby morally discredit me, is utterly transparent.

William Howell's picture

So, are you writing, that you would not force your prescription upon the people in order to fix the injustices that you see?

user-189304's picture

If you were so blinded, by virtue of your complete focus upon 'winning' this exchange, you will see that my position is already stated

William Howell's picture

I know your position and I knew it when you quoted that farce of an essay!
Thus this concludes your lesson.

user-189304's picture

I think I've been exccedingly tolerant up until this point. But it is abundantly clear that you are obtuse, wilfully ignorant, and ego driven; consequently it would be entirely reasonable to infer that you're a moron.

But sure, if it makes you feel better, you can ridicule an essay that you have never read, and pretend like you've schooled me.

user-189304's picture

But if it makes you feel better, I'm currently hiking up a 2,000m hill. And in 10 minutes I won't spare you another thought.

Only works for certain species and I can't imagine it would be able to supply the entire world's needs. In America, we don't eat a lot of fish (I personally eat a lot!) but worldwide? I don't think so.

Michael Jin's picture

To be frank, the USA alone is capable of producing enough food of feeding nearly the entire world if we wanted so it's not an issue of starvation.

That aside, I understand that it only works for certain species, but why not just eat the species that we can farm? It's not like we're out eating mountain lions and bears (at least on a mass scale). Would it kill us to limit the species of fish we eat to just the ones we can farm just like we do with normal (land based) meats?

If protecting the ecology of the oceans are a concern, then we could also educate people to shift their reliance on more sustainable food sources that CAN be farmed. One big one would be insects.

Simply put, the solutions are there. We just don't have a desire as a species to implement them because we like the flavor of particular fish and more often than not, they are not of the farmed variety. It probably doesn't help that all of our cooking shows constantly remind us to buy wild caught fish due to the "inferior flavor" of farmed fish.

There is no "we" as a species. What I mean is, we have cultural, religious, national and individual differences and motivations. There is no species-wide will to do, well... anything.

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