“Alguera” portrays the work of Miriam Muñoz, who has been collecting algae since she was 10 years old. The film, made as part of an investigation, won first place in the general category of the 2022 Marine Science Congress.
“Alguera” is the name of the micro-documentary that recently won first place in the general category of the 2022 Marine Science Congress. The audiovisual piece, lasting just over five minutes, portrays the life of Miriam Muñoz, an artisanal fisherwoman who lives in the Guabún sector on the island of Chiloé and who has been working algae harvesting since she was 10 years old.
The film was directed by Tomás Vallejo, a marine biologist at the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh) and a doctoral student in Forest Ecosystems and Natural Resources at the same university. Through research, the professional was able to learn about the diversity of realities that exist in the different artisanal fisheries and how they face multiple problems that affect the sustainability of both the communities and the marine resources on which they depend.
“After being in lockdown for two years due to the pandemic, we started looking for new ideas and ways to motivate ourselves to continue with our research. The recordings were made in January 2022 as part of an audiovisual project that seeks to portray the current problems associated with the socio-ecological systems in which artisanal fishing takes place, from the voice of the fishermen. This, with the aim of raising awareness and educating about what is happening with fisheries in Chile.”
“Alguera” shows the knowledge and practices in the process of extracting luga, an algae of great economic importance from which carrageenan is obtained, a key element for the production of processed products in the food and pharmaceutical industries. These species are part of the base of food webs, they produce oxygen, absorb CO2 and are considered refuge and habitat areas for many organisms. In the micro-documentary it is possible to see how the luga is harvested, from the moment it washes up on the shore, the way it is stretched out on pebble mulch to dry, and the transfer on horseback to a truck in order to collect the product, at the wait for a middleman to buy it.
“The interesting thing about this micro-documentary is Miriam’s life story. Basically, she does everything: she works in the fields and in the sea, she gets up very early to feed her animals and then, together with her family, she goes down to extract luga,” says Vallejo, who is also part of the Milenio SECOS Institute. “Sometimes you buy products and you don’t even know where they come from or how all the work has been and what problems are behind it,” he adds. To watch the micro-documentary, click here.