Since February 2015, Dan Smith has documented the story of Eddie Willis, his wife Alison, their three year old daughter, Maggie and the dozens of family, friends and employees who work with them. Eddie, a fourth generation Harkers Island fisherman and Alison, currently appointed to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, are leading the effort to change the business model of how fishermen in North Carolina process and sell their catch, employing traditional fishing methods that have been passed down for generations amongst fishermen along the Core Sound. During this time, they have been embroiled in an ongoing political battle between the recreational and commercial fishing industries over the size of and science behind North Carolina’s population of Southern Flounder. All the while, Maggie makes a playground of her parents’ fish market and community supported fishery—her inheritance, as soon as she is old enough to run a boat of her own.
The resulting photographic and motion image work, A Mess of Feesh touches on the multigenerational role of traditional aquaculture in coastal North Carolina and the global/local nature of the environmental, social and economic pressures weighing on the state’s last surviving traditional cultural industry.