Shifting Baselines Releases


In late July television viewers will begin seeing the second public service announcement (PSA) from the Shifting Baselines Media Campaign and filmmaker/marine biologist Randy Olson (distributed by Banyan Communications). Designed to call attention to declining fisheries and one proposed solution (Marine Protected Areas or MPAs) the spot makes its point with humor.

The PSA opens with the question, "The Future of Fishing?" followed by a Fish and Game warden (Cedric Yarbrough of Comedy Central's "Reno 911!") approaching a fisherman unloading his boat. The warden asks, "What did you catch?" The fisherman proudly replies, "Hit the mother lode today," then holds up a stringer of tiny, two-inch long fish.

The warden measures them with his one-inch long gauge and proclaims, "I haven't seen fish this big in years," leading to the narrator conceding, "Okay, it's not this bad yet, but ocean fish are not as large as they used to be." A solution is offered: "MPAs, Marine Protected Areas, which are like underwater national parks." It directs viewers to the Shifting Baselines website ( that has a new MPAs informational resource.

"MPAs are a worldwide trend," Randy Olson says. "There are literally hundreds of them established or proposed around the United States, yet the public knows little of their need. The tiny fish are a comic exaggeration, but scientific data do indicate a reduction in the average size of most harvested ocean fish." The PSA also helps recruit new support to the major ocean conservation groups, all of whom are participants in Shifting Baselines. These include The Ocean Conservancy, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Surfrider Foundation, and sixteen other major ocean conservation groups.

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