Having watched the great schooners disappear from the horizon, in 1938 Alan Villiers, famed explorer and mariner set out from Kuwait upon an Omani Dhow headed for Zanzibar and back up to northernmost Oman.
When Villiers set out on his historic voyage, the world had just begun its long march towards globalisation. The supplanting of engines over sails made distances shorter and deep-sea navigation easier, connecting trade, culture and civilisations like never before.
80 years later, we are experiencing in a universal fashion the consequences of global economies coupled with the impact on our unique identities, societal values and marine biosphere.
Fish stocks around the globe are almost depleted as traditional fishermen have been forced to replace sustainable practices with modern, destructive fishing techniques.
In 2010, the RV Heraclitus and Ecotechnics began the Mediterranean Oral History project documenting the living culture and heritage of the peoples of the Mediterranean coast. Since then, oral histories have been captured in Algeria, Corsica, Croatia, France, Israel, Italy, Lebanon Morocco, Spain, and Tunisia with more than 150 interviews.
Starting in 2013, Mark Abouzeid collaborated in the project, capturing oral histories in Tunisia, Sicily, Lebanon and Israel. This short film, “The Sea People series: The Fishermen”, is an introduction to the breadth and scope of the expedition, itself, as well as a glimpse into the insights and traditions preserved.
The cycle of reciprocity between human culture and the sea has been broken by the domination of extractive economics. The loss of generations of ecological knowledge and cultural practices that inform and cohere communities is accelerating year on year.
What will maritime cultures be without vibrant economic and social communities connected with the sea itself?! How can communities retain and promote local livelihoods, social networks, cuisine, music, stories, values, varieties of customs and language?Kathlin Gray, Ecotechnics Marine