For over a half-century, fishermen the world over have ventured to one of the most bio-diverse oceans in the world with one goal in mind: filling their freezers. The Sea of Cortez - once called the world's aquarium by Jacques Costeau - has been plundered. Thrill-seeking Americans come hunting for trophy sailfish. Far-reaching Japanese fleets roam offshore waters to catch fish for Japan. Mexican corporations ply the waters hauling stadium-sized nets. From the bone-dry Colorado River Delta to the deep ocean just beyond Cabo San Lucas, the fisheries of the Sea of Cortez have been devastated, leaving the small fishing communities that pepper the coast little more than scraps.

I plan to spend the early summer months of 2014 photographing subsistence fishing communities along the coast of Vaja, Mexico. I will primarily be using digital SLRs to document these communities, however, I plan to bring my Bronica ETRS 645 to make formal portraits of the fishermen and their families.

The Dorothea Lange Fellowship would fund a photographic expedition to witness the effects of overfishing on local fishermen. More than any other members of our global society, these small-scale fishermen experience the raw power of the natural world, casting further and further out to sea to hunt for their food. Through photographs of their work and their lives, I plan to tell the story of a globalized fish market and its effect on the people who have chased these creatures for generations.

Jason Jaacks
December 10, 2013