END OF THE LINE, THE
Former London Daily Telegraph journalist Charles Clover, whose book provides the basis for this doco, is joined by former tuna fisherman and whistle blower Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi in confronting the problem the overfishing and those who benefit from it - despite the threat to marine life. Filmed over two years around the world from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska and the Tokyo Fish Market, the filmmakers talk to scientists, indigenous fishermen and fishing enforcement officials. The dangerous depletion of fishing stocks seems inevitable.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
When journalist Charles Clover walked into the wrong press conference in 1990 in The Hague, he learnt first hand about the dramatic effects on marine life of commercial trawling ... it shocked him so much he set off on an investigative journey of discovery and activism which led first to his book and then this film.
In 1992, the cod harvest of Newfoundland, Canada, was showing signs of overfishing and a controversial moratorium on cod fishing was imposed - a bit late for the cod, though. Soon - around 2001 - 2002 - scientists around the world recorded falling fish levels. Man was being his stupid, greedy self again. But the total harvests were going up. Investigations showed that this was purely a paper entry: Chinese officials kept inflating their harvests to get preferment in their jobs. The Chinese figures distorted the reality.
Like the investigative docos The Cove (2009) about seal slaughter in Japan, and Sharkwater (2006), about massive overfishing of sharks to feed the lucrative trade in shark fins, The End of the Line takes us inside an industry we all take for granted and know little about. All we get to see are the neat rows of fish and fillets in our local seafood shop. But heavy duty industrial fishing vessels, hunting every known species of edible fish, are depleting the ocean's resources - hard as it is to believe. The trouble is, those in a position to do anything about it are either unwilling or uninformed. Based on UN figures, the film suggests that if this continues, there will be virtually no fish left to harvest by 2048 - 2050.
For example: scientists recommend blue fin tuna catch be restricted to 15,000 tonnes; but to enable recovery, that should be 10,000 tonnes. The EU fisheries authority (ICCAT) has mandated a quota of 29,500 tonnes (twice the recommended amount) while the bad boys of the fishing industry ignore the limit and catch 61,000 tonnes. And nobody's doing anything to stop it. That's a $26 billion catch; most of it illegal. The biggest buyer is Mitsubishi ... who, according to former tuna fisherman Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi, is stockpiling the tuna in large quantities (frozen) which will dramatically increase in value if and when any action is taken to limit overfishing.
Helped enormously by a wonderfully rich score, The End of the Line presents its arguments cogently and without hysteria - but alarmingly. Clearly, apart from plain bureaucratic stupidity, money (ie greed) is what's at the end of the line; a small number of operators are making multi million dollar harvests. And no-one is saying stop, except perhaps those who made this film. But there is a glimmer of hope ...
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END OF THE LINE, THE (G)
CAST: Documentary featuring Charles Clover, Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi
NARRATION: Ted Danson
PRODUCER: George Duffield, Claire Lewis
DIRECTOR: Rupert Murray
SCRIPT: (based on the book by Charles Clover)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Groundwater, Kash Halford
EDITOR: Claire Ferguson
MUSIC: Srdjan Kurpjel, Marios Takoushis
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ovation/DV1
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 13, 2010