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June 15th, 2008
Something's Fishy in Scotland

For generations, fishing families have taken pride in making their living from their skill and perseverance on the sea. Yet today, the ability of fishermen to ply their trade is under serious threat. They face shrinking catches of many species, which some say is caused by over-fishing. In addition, fishermen are strangled by ever-tightening quotas and other regulations, ostensibly created to protect fish populations but also, as some fishermen suspect, to give some nations unfair advantage in a highly competitive industry.

The WIDE ANGLE episode “Gutted” chronicles the struggles of Scottish fishing families in the village of Fraserburgh to maintain their way of living under the new policies of the European Union. At the heart of the program is the West family, who face the loss of their fishing boat under pressure to “decommission” her — that is, to submit to having her destroyed.

Through this lesson, students will explore the complex issues underlying the plight of the fishing families of Fraserburgh. They will identify and discuss the issues raised in the film, and then conduct further research on these issues using a jigsaw format. Alternatively, they may write letters to characters in the program demonstrating their understanding of the issues.

Several extension activities can further enrich the lesson. Students can learn more about the lives of those who make their living by fishing; read about the decline of fish populations; do an activity to demonstrate how fish populations are estimated; and find out about industries that disappeared from their own communities.

Subjects: social studies, economics, environmental studies

Grade Level: 7-12

Time Allotment: Four to eight 45-minute class periods

Learning Objectives:

Students Will

Identify and share their prior knowledge of issues involving the fishing industry.

Read and discuss an article on the fishing industry in Scotland.

View the issues raised in the program from four perspectives: environmental, social/personal, economic, and political.

Learn how fish populations are estimated.

Use a jigsaw approach to gathering and sharing information about the issues related to the Scottish fishing industry OR demonstrate their understanding of the main issues raised in the program by writing a letter to one of the people in the video.

Academic Standards:

McRel Economics Standard 1, Level 3, Benchmark 1, 2, & 3
Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs

    Benchmark 1 — Understands that scarcity of resources necessitates choice at both the personal and the societal levels

    Benchmark 2 — Knows that all decisions involve opportunity costs and that effective economic decision making involves weighing the costs and benefits associated with alternative choices

    Benchmark 3 — Understands that the evaluation of choices and opportunity costs is subjective and differs across individuals and societies

McRel Economics Standard 3, Level 4, Benchmark 3
Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market economy

    Benchmark 3 — Understands that changes in supply or demand cause relative prices to change; in turn, buyers and sellers adjust their purchase and sales decisions

McREL Self-Regulation Standard 1, Level 4, Benchmark 2

Sets and manages goals

    Benchmark 2 — Creates an action plan to achieve long-term goals that includes strategic, practical steps and that accounts for the resources needed to achieve these goals

McRel Working With Others Standard 1, Level IV, Benchmark 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10
Contributes to the overall effort of a group

    Benchmark 1 — Knows the behaviors and skills that contribute to team effectiveness

    Benchmark 2 — Works cooperatively within a group to complete tasks, achieve goals, and solve problems

    Benchmark 4 — Demonstrates respect for others’ rights, feelings, and points of view in a group

    Benchmark 5 — Identifies and uses the individual strengths and interests of others to accomplish team goals

    Benchmark 6 — Identifies causes of conflict in a group and works cooperatively with others to deal with conflict though negotiation, compromise, and consensus

    Benchmark 7 — Helps the group establish goals, taking personal responsibility for accomplishing such goals

    Benchmark 8 — Evaluates the overall progress of a group toward a goal

    Benchmark 9 — Contributes to the development of a supportive climate in groups

    Benchmark 10 — Actively listens to the ideas of others and asks clarifying questions

National Standards for History
Standards 5A, 5D

    A. Identify issues and problems in the past and analyze the interests, values, perspectives, and points of view of those involved in the situation.

    D. Evaluate alternative courses of action, keeping in mind the information available at the time, in terms of ethical considerations, the interests of those affected by the decision, and the long and short-term consequences of each.

National Standards for Social Studies

    IX. Global Connections: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.

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