Skate boarding, wake boarding and tenpin bowling all get a gig on community television! What about spearfishing?
Community television has opened up opportunities for shows featuring sports not traditionally broadcasted on mainstream, free-to-air TV. Following the popularity of several recreational fishing shows in Australia we submitted a proposal to C31 Melbourne to produce 7 episodes of a 30 minute spearfishing and cooking show. As nothing of this sort had been aired before in this country or in any other countries as far as we knew, we were not sure how it would be received.
Being unsure of how much effort to invest in our project we put together a 30 minute pilot episode. The pilot saw the four members of the team visiting local, easily accessible reefs in southern Port Phillip Bay targeting southern calamari, a species prevalent in the spring and summer months. The calamari was chosen for the pilot as it is a fast growing highly productive species, enforcing our own and the Australian Underwater Federations’ motto of Safe, Sustainable, Selective spearfishing. The pilot was edited, packaged and sent off to the C31 Melbourne head office. We waited with baited breath!
After what seemed like an eternity we were contacted by C31 who invited us to a meeting in Melbourne. You have to understand that here were four mates who thought they’d try their luck putting together a TV show and there we were a few weeks later entering the C31 headquarters. We were unsure of what to expect but within seconds of introducing ourselves we were greeted with “so these are the STM boys” – the pilot had obviously been watched and not just used to prop up someone’s wonky desk. The pilot was received very well and we were given plenty of encouragement and advice on how to proceed.
Since then we have made a further 5 episodes, with one still to come, targeting wahoo, yellowtail kingfish, dolphin fish, flathead and southern rock lobster. All episodes have a similar structure based on a spearfishing trip, some discussion on the biology of the target species, and a cooking segment where the day’s catch is transformed into a beautiful seafood dish. There are also segments discussing spearfishing gear as well as techniques for targeting particular species.
What will hopefully make this series stand out a little is the background of our crew. We are comprised of three marine scientists and a teacher, all with a great passion not only for spearfishing, but the marine environment in general. This is coupled with a healthy interest in all things seafood (not to mention beer and wine!). We use these skills to not only show off the spectacular underwater environment and the hunting of great seafood, but to educate the public about the species and about spearfishing.
Traditionally spearfishing has had more than its fair share of bad publicity, some deserved, some not. We hope to take this opportunity to increase the exposure of responsible spearfishing beyond traditional media such as magazines and web forums and push the Safe, Sustainable, Selective nature of this form of harvesting.
With the help of Legendary Skindiving Equipment, Geelong and Otway Tourism and Bellarine Estate, series 1 will begin broadcasting in September 2008 on C31 Melbourne. TVS Sydney have also agreed to broadcast Spearing the Menu, but the stating date is yet to be decided. If enough funds are generated through sponsorship to cover broadcast fees, we will also pitch it at community TV stations in other states Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Should interest in our first 7 episode be sufficient we would like to make a second full 13 episode series. In this second series we would hope to travel to other different destinations around Australia and target new species.
A lot of this will of course be dependent on sponsorship but the response so far has been encouraging. We are still relatively new to the whole world of television productions but we are motivated, dedicated and fast learners (well, some of us are). At the end of the day, if you can successfully bring the marine environment into peoples living rooms in a fun and informative fashion how can you go wrong (watch this space!).