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Marine documentary makers stumble across illegal dynamite fishermen

Although strictly outlawed, dynamite fishing continues to devastate wildlife across the Philippines

Documentary filmmakers shooting a new nature series in the Philippines witnessed at first hand the devastation caused by dynamite fishing.

A camera crew working on the new four-part documentary Big Pacific — which is set for global release this summer — filmed as coastguards accompanying them gave chase.

“The illegal fishermen fled and crashed into the shore, abandoning their vessel,” the series’ executive producer Kyle Murdoch said.

He described how his crew was in a lagoon in the Philippines shooting a dugong mother and her calf when they felt a massive underwater explosion.

“They rushed over to the other side of the cove where some people were dynamite fishing. Luckily we filmed the whole thing. The rack and ruin was incredible.

“Our team was devastated by what they saw — but they were able to capture it on film and show the real problems these animals face and what local heroes are trying to do,” he said.

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Footage of the incident has been included in the “making of” episode of the series, which is being billed as the next landmark nature series on the scale of the BBC’s Planet Earth.

“Unfortunately, the dynamite fishermen got away,” Mr Murdoch said after the series was premiered at Cannes on the French Riviera.

Despite the Philippine government declaring an “all-out war” on rogue fishermen, they continue to operate and are estimated to have damaged 70 per cent of the country’s coral reefs.

The documentary series is set for global release this summer

Big Pacific aims to explore the world’s largest ocean in an “emotional, cinematic” fashion, telling the stories of some of its least-known creatures and capturing some never-before-seen footage.

The series was the last worked on by pioneering underwater American photographer Bob Cranston, who died of cancer last year.

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“He was one of the very best there ever was,” Mr Murdoch said, “we were really lucky to have had him on board.”

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