NATIONAL NEWS - The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) has approved a proposal by United Kingdom-based film and production company, Plimsoll Productions, to film a wildlife documentary series on Marion Island.
The approval, which follows a rigorous approval process involving key stakeholders, will see film makers and scientists collaborate to ensure the continuation of important research projects on Marion Island.
“There are significant, globally valued long-term science and conservation projects on Marion Island that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and both parties viewed this as an opportunity for collaboration,” the department said on Wednesday.
The agreement with Plimsoll Production includes the charter of a private vessel at their own cost, with an offer to transport seven members of the M77 over-wintering team to the island in September 2020.
“This would allow for the mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on science activities by enabling filmmakers and scientists to combine efforts to enable the continuation of field science programmes on Marion Island, as well as filming incredible natural behaviour. Some of these scientific datasets on Marion Island are nearing 40 years of uninterrupted observations,” the department said.
There has been a thorough analysis of the proposed activities and a permit with very strict conditions has been issued.
“To monitor compliance with the permit conditions, a departmental official will accompany the film crew to ensure that they observe the necessary regulations and protocols. The proposal also went through an extremely rigorous interrogation by the Prince Edward Island Advisory Committee (PEIAC).
“The PEIAC was established in compliance with the Prince Edward Island Management Plan to ensure that the pristine nature of the Prince Edward Island is maintained and all activities are controlled and in compliance with the Management Plan,” the department explained.
Keeping with COVID-19 prescripts
In keeping with the COVID-19 prescripts and regulations, the entire team will adhere to strict working protocols.
“For the trip to Marion Island, the charter vessel will be de-contaminated prior to departure. A full inspection will be conducted on the vessel by DEFF to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
“The entire filming team, scientists and vessel crew will all be quarantined and COVID-19 tested in the lead up to departure. All participants on the expedition will undergo full medical examinations prescribed for visitors to the Antarctic or Sub-Antarctic,” the department said.
The expedition will depart from Cape Town to Marion Island in mid-September. – SAnews.gov.za