BYCATCH

Bycatch is a collaboration between Maria Renée Johnson and Eric Magrane that seeks to creatively address the shrimp trawling fishery in México's Gulf of California through visual arts, poetry, geography, and marine ecology. Poem and illustration pairs pay witness to the individual animals that are discarded as bycatch in this fishery -- rates of bycatch in some areas are 87% by weight on average.  Parts of this project have been published in Edible Baja Arizona, Zócalo Magazine, Terrain.org, the Coordinates Society Magazine, as well as the academic journal Cultural Geographies. An exhibition of Bycatch at the University of Arizona Museum of Art was installed from February - April 2017 and from December 2018 - March 2019.  

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 "In Bycatch, Eric Magrane and Maria Johnson present an art-science exploration of the shrimp trawling fishery in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Every night from September through March, hundreds of boats traverse the water dragging hundred-foot long nets across the seafloor after a quarry of shrimp. Along with shrimp, they pull up over 200 other species. About 85% of the weight captured is not shrimp; this is called ‘bycatch.’

Combining video, installation, illustration, and poetry based on their overnight field research aboard trawlers, Magrane and Johnson have created an exhibit that gives you a taste of what it feels like to be knee deep in this overwhelming bycatch on the deck of a boat. They also introduce you to some specific individuals—such as a Shamefaced crab, Shovelnose guitarfish, and Sonora scorpionfish—often caught up in the nets. For the exhibit, they have produced a “Collectors’ Edition” set of Bycatch Trading Cards that pay witness to some of the non-human individuals so often the casualties of this unsustainable fishing practice."

Image by Gina Compitello

Bycatch Trading Cards pay witness to species caught as collateral damage. Design and illustrations by Maria, poems by Eric.  

Prior to this collaboration, Maria worked for 4 years leading bycatch research as a continuation of a longitudinal study with the Prescott College Kino Bay Center. Below are some images from that time; please be aware that many of these are graphic.