I recently interviewed the crew members that worked on the documentary, “Fish Meat“. Here’s what filmmaker Dr. Andy Danylchuk had to say.
1- Tell me what you do and what got you to work on Fish Meat.
Some people call me a ‘fish hugger’. I grew up eating fish, catching fish for recreation, and with a mask on my face watching fish in wonder. I was then stubborn enough to shape my career around fish, their ecology and their conservation. What got me to work on Fish Meat was the continued confusion and debate of the role of aquaculture in meeting the demands for fish as a source of food. Even in my short lifetime I’ve seen commercial fisheries decline rapidly, while at the same time the demand for Fish Meat continues to grow. Recognizing that even I struggle with deciding whether to eat wild or farm raised, I figured that a documentary like Fish Meat needed to be made.
2- What was it like filming Fish Meat? Any anecdotes you can share about your experience?
Definitely NOT a vacation in Turkey. Our filming schedule was fast-paced and exhausting. Nevertheless, I was simply blown away by how beautiful Turkey was, how welcoming people were, and how quickly the aquaculture industry in Turkey is expanding/evolving. As a recreational angler, I was also totally dismayed by not catching a single thing while trolling behind the sailboat for days (a running joke with the film crew). I then snorkeled around a bit and realized how depauperate the wild fish stocks are in parts of the Aegean Sea.
3- How has Fish Meat changed the way you eat or buy seafood?
Tremendously. I now only eat shellfish (muscles, clams, oysters), domestic tilapia and catfish (great in fish tacos), line caught mahi-mahi (because it is fast growing, has an early age at maturity, and his highly fecund – females have lots of eggs), and infrequently wild salmon from Alaska or farmed salmon BUT only from suppliers that can tell me what country the fish is from AND details about the farm itself. I’m also extra picky at restaurants – if the server or chef cannot tell me very detailed information where the fish or shellfish is from, I simply eat something else (like pasta, beans and rice, etc).
4- What is your go-to seafood recipe for home cooking or seafood dish to order in a restaurant?
Steamed mussels topped with a white wine, tomato paste, and fresh basil reduction.
5- If you weren’t working now you would be…
I’m doing what I love – learning about fish and then sharing what I know with my undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Amherst, as well as taking my education and outreach to a broader audience via film. I think I was a fish once…..