[Back to Formatted Version]

Farmers of the Sea Motion Picture Film Production, 1983-1984

By Valeria Dávila and Elizabeth Nielsen

Collection Overview

Title: Farmers of the Sea Motion Picture Film Production, 1983-1984

ID: FV 185 - SG 2

Primary Creator: Oregon Sea Grant Communications

Extent: 5.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged in 2 series: 1. Pre-print film elements, 1983-1984 and 2. Print film elements, 1984.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Farmers of the Sea Motion Picture Film Production consist of pre-print and print film elements of the Farmers of the Sea documentary film produced in 1984 by the Oregon Sea Grant Program at Oregon State University.

The film examines the most recent developments in aquaculture practices at the time, in Japan, China, the United States, Scotland, and Panamá. A digital copy of the film can be viewed here.

Scope and Content Notes

The Farmers of the Sea Motion Picture Films consist of 16 mm pre-print and print film elements of the Farmers of the Sea documentary produced in 1984 by Jim Larison, then Director of Communications for the Oregon State University Sea Grant Program. Other individuals from Oregon State University with roles in the film production include:  Joe Cone (field sound), David A. King (photography) Sandra Ridlington (script research research), and William Q. Wick (executive producer).

The film examines the most recent developments in aquaculture practices at the time, in Japan, China, the United States, Scotland, and Panamá. The film was broadcast by PBS NOVA on November 13th, 1984, and won the International Agricultural Film and Television Competition Award in 1986.

A digital copy of the film can be viewed here.

Synopsis of the film

Farmers of the Sea starts with an introduction about the global crisis of the traditional fishing practices caused by the overexploitation of sea products, presenting aquaculture as the solution to this crisis moving forward, of which the narrator refers to the “blue revolution.”

Following this introduction, the film visits diverse countries around the world, examining their unique approaches to aquaculture, starting with Japan, and continuing with China, the United States, Scotland, back to the United States, Panamá, and finally circling back to Japan.

The first section on Japan includes footage of the Osaka Market, including workers unloading tuna from refrigerated trucks and prepping the fish for sale, as well as a brief interview with the Market’s Manager, Toshio Ataka. Also included is footage of fish-based Japanese meals being prepared and served at a sushi bar, as well as pearl cultivation at the Shikoku Island, including footage of workers collecting clams from floating bamboo structures in the bay and sorting them according to size, color, and quality at the Mikimoto facilities, a Japanese pearl producer company.

Next is China, where China’s ancient history of fish-based diet is addressed. The Chinese preference is carp, which come in many different varieties (Grass carp, Bighead carp, Silver carp, Mud carp, Common carp, and Black carp) and which the Chinese raise using “polyculture,” an aquaculture technique where more than one species are cultivated in the same pond. This section includes footage of these practices in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The first section on the United States, which includes footage of cultivation of catfish and salmon. While catfish is grown in inland ponds that once were used for agriculture, salmon, due to its migratory nature, is cultivated in hatcheries when juvenile and then released to the rivers. This process is explained by James E. Lannan from Oregon State University and featured is the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery.

The section on Scotland. The Scottish raise confined migratory Atlantic salmon, and this section includes footage of workers from the Golden Sea Produce company collecting fish from nets on the sea. The said company is based in Oban, Argyll, Scotland, United Kingdom.

The second section on the United States, four geographic locations are featured to include the cultivation of oysters, shrimp, and freshwater prawn. First, the Chesapeake Bay, where Fisherman Wadey Murphy, owner of the Skipjack Sigsbee company, is interviewed. Murphy represents the more traditional way of fishing oysters. Second is Deal island, where George Krantz from the University of Maryland is interviewed to explain how oyster is produced in the island’s oyster hatchery. Third is Addison Lawrence from the Texas A&M University, who explains how they improved fertility and reproduction rates for their shrimp by using the “shrimp eyestalk ablation” technique. Fourth, and last, the [Maui Nui] hatchery in Hawaii is featured, including footage of the workers in the hatchery as well as an interview with Hawaii's Governor, George Ariyoshi.

Next is Panama, where the US company Purina moved its shrimp aquaculture businesses due to the cheaper labor. Interviewed in this section is the Director of the International Rice Research Institute, M. S. Swaminathan, as well as Richard Pretto, the National Director for Aquaculture Panama. This section also includes footage of the Guaymí Indians, who raise carp and tilapia by using polyculture in inland ponds.

Finally, back to Japan, this time including footage of Nori seaweed cultivation and processing in Nori hatcheries and processing plants in Akashi.

The film’s production and presentation

As with most professional productions, picture and sound were recorded separately for this film production. A 16 mm Arriflex SR-2 camera was utilized for capturing picture on Kodak negative color film stock, and a Nagra IV was utilized for capturing sound on ¼” magnetic stock.

A careful examination of the materials revealed that two versions of the film were made for different presentations: a 60-minute long version for broadcast on the PBS NOVA show, and 30-minute projection prints. In addition to this, two different typographies were employed for the film’s titles. Both typographies were found in different versions of workprint deaccessioned elements, as well as in the retained composite projection prints. However, one of them is the most recurring, being also present in the A&B rolls and the intermediate elements. However, for the 60-minute broadcast version, new titles were created.

Condition of the materials

All film picture, sound, and composite elements in this collection are acetate-based, thus subject to vinegar syndrome deterioration. While elements are in good condition overall, the A&B rolls and the intermediate elements, especially those long stored inside plastic bags before the 2021 rehousing, show signs of vinegar syndrome deterioration starting or actively deteriorating. Because vinegar syndrome is contagious, elements showing this decay were stored separately from those found healthy.

In addition, Farmers of the Sea is a color film, thus the picture and composite elements are subject to color fading. Color fading is the chemical deterioration of the color dyes in color films resulting in the picture turning magenta or purplish. Fading also produces loss of contrast and color balance, with the picture looking washed out. Visual examination of the materials detected fading in the workprint elements that were deaccessioned from this collection, and anticipates this kind of decay being present in other elements, such as the Color Reversal Internegative (CRI), a kind of element prone to rapid fading.

Biographical / Historical Notes

The OSU Sea Grant program was established on February 20, 1968 as a result of the National Sea Grant Program and College Act of 1966. It was the first and largest of three programs set up at that time. Its mission was to develop "an understanding and appreciation of how to live with the ocean and how to manage the coastal zone." The program has focused on five areas: marine extension, education and training, seafood research, coastal environments, and public policy analysis. It is cooperatively funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by the State of Oregon and local communities, and by private industry.

Sea Grant Communications produces books, reports, brochures, and newsletters as well as videos and DVDs that interpret, reflect, and promote the work of Sea Grant-funded research.

Jim Larison began his work at Oregon State University in 1978 as Assistant to the Director for Communications of Oregon Sea Grant. He became the Director of Sea Grant Communications in 1983, a position he held until about 1994.

Author: Elizabeth Nielsen

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: including 30 film reels housed within 26 film cans; 5 boxes

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: Materials were transferred to the former University Archives in 2000 and 2003 by Sea Grant Communications.

Related Materials:

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center holds video versions of the Farmers of the Sea production as well as other Oregon Sea Grant Communications productions in the Oregon Sea Grant Communications Videotapes and DVDs (FV 185 - SG 1).  Other motion picture films produced by Oregon Sea Grant Communications, including pre-print elements and final productions are described as the Oregon Sea Grant Communications Moving Images (FV 185 - SG 3).

The Sea Grant College Program Records (RG 201)and the Sea Grant College Program Photographs (P 185)document the administration and research, outreach, and education programs of the Oregon Sea Grant program.

Other SCARC film and video collections that place a strong emphasis on ocean research and coastal life include the Hatfield Marine Science Center Videotapes (FV 254), the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences Motion Picture Films and Videotapes (FV 203), the "Oceanography: The Making of a Science" Videotapes (FV 236), and the Charles Osterberg Motion Picture Films (FV 284).

Preferred Citation: Farmers of the Sea Motion Picture Film Production (FV185 - SG 2), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information:

The pre-print and print film elements of Farmers of the Sea that now comprise this collection were originally part of the Oregon Sea Grant Communications Moving Images Collection (FV 185).

There are 319 16mm film and audiotape elements related to Farmers of the Sea in the Oregon Sea Grant Communications Moving Images collection (VHS and Umatic videotapes not counted). From those, 311 are 16mm audio-visual elements, and the remaining 8 are ¼ inch audiotape recordings which were not inspected as part of this project. The elements were dispersed in 11 boxes and 7 canisters, and accessioned in two parts, 2000:100 and 2003:083.

Accession 2000:100 contained the smaller total number of film rolls, 37, but the greater variety of film production elements: A&B rolls (cut negatives or edited original negatives), workprints (low quality silent prints used to produce the editing template of the film), duplicate negatives (or “internegatives”), master positives (or “interpositives”), a fragment of reversal film, title trims, composite prints (prints with image and sound combined), and optical and magnetic soundtracks.

Accession 2003:083, on the other hand, contained the bigger number of film rolls, 274, but were primarily camera original negatives trims and outtakes, and three workprints. As a result of the detailed review and recommendations, materials that were part of the 2003 accession were not retained as part of this collection.


Oregon Sea Grant Communications
Cone, Joseph
King, Dave (David Arthur) (1950-)
Larison, Jim (James R.)
Ridlington, Sandy
WGBH (Television station : Boston, Mass.)
Wick, William Q.

People, Places, and Topics

Ariyoshi, George R., 1926-
Catfish Farmers of America
Fish hatcheries--Oregon.
History of Science
International Rice Research Institute
Krantz, George E.
Lannan, James E., 1935-
Lawrence, Addison L.
Natural Resources
Oregon State University--Research.
Oregon State University. Sea Grant College Program.
Salmon fisheries--Oregon.
University History

Forms of Material

Motion pictures (visual works)

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Pre-Print Elements, 1983-1984
Series 1 consists of elements created in the course of the filming and production of Farmers of the Sea. Materials with vinegar syndrome are stored separately in boxes 1 and 3.
Box-Item 1.1: A&B Rolls reel 1 roll A (long)
Box-Item 1.2: A&B Rolls reel 2 roll A (long)
Box-Item 1.3: A&B Rolls reel 1 roll B (long)
Box-Item 1.4: A&B Rolls reel 2 roll B (long)
Box-Item 1.5: A&B Interpositive roll A (short)
Box-Item 1.6: A&B Interpositive roll B (short)
Box-Item 2.1: Color Reversal Internegative reel 1 (long)
Box-Item 2.2: Color Reversal Internegative reel 2 (long)
Box-Item 2.3: Internegative reel 1 (short)
Box-Item 2.4: Magnetic Soundtrack Full Mix (short)
Box-Item 2.5: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 2 roll A (long)
Box-Item 2.6: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 2 roll A (long)
Box-Item 2.7: Optical Soundtrack Negative roll B (short)
Box-Item 2.8: Opticals (Titles)
Box-Item 3.1: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 1 roll A (long)
Box-Item 3.2: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 1 roll A (long)
Box-Item 3.3: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 1 roll B (long)
Box-Item 3.4: Optical Soundtrack Negative reel 2 roll B (long)
Box-Item 3.5: Magnetic Soundtrack Master reel 1 (long)
Box-Item 3.6: Magnetic Soundtrack Master reel 2 (long)
Series 2: Print Elements, 1984
Series 2 consists of the two final production of Farmers of the Sea.  Materials with vinegar syndrome are stored separately in box 5.
Box-Item 4.1: Composite Print reel 1 (long)
Box-Item 4.2: Composite Print reel 2 (long)
Box-Item 4.3: Composite Print reel 1 (long)
Box-Item 4.4: Composite Print reel 2 (long)
Box-Item 5.1: Composite Print (short)
Box-Item 5.2: Composite Print (short)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.