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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

2012 December 10
tags: ,
by Shared by Steve Rust

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2012), based on a 2007 novel by Paul Torday, tells the story of a British fisheries expert who works for an Arab sheik to introduce Atlantic Salmon into the Yemen River. Ostensibly, the plan is intended to support the sheik’s love of fly fishing but we come to discover that the sheik’s plans have more to do with his desire to bring agricultural prosperity to his region through irrigation. The acting, cinematography, and editing are superb and and the plot is quite interesting if a bit overwrought. Importantly, however, the film is based on flawed science and does not refer to the threatened and endangered status of wild Atlantic Salmon, as University of Maine fisheries expert Michel Kinnison recently explained in an interview with the web series Down to Earth (see video below). I’m not suggesting that fiction films always have to be based on sound science but in this case the director’s decision to remove most of the book’s satire from the film and end on a melodramatic scene is problematic in my opinion because this moment of high drama in the film confirms the scientific validity of the project to the point of likely convincing many in the audience that there are now salmon in the Middle East. As Kinneson suggests, introducing salmon to this region of the world is analogous to terraforming the surface of Mars.

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