Dramatic title perhaps, but maybe not quite so far-fetched.
In Sundance, one of the questions that came up repeatedly at showings of the End Of The Line movie is ‘what about climate change?’ assuming, rightly, that a warming planet will have implications for our fish populations too.
Orange roughy after being caught by a deep sea trawler
Well my practised response to this before I got there was simply that the effects of climate change make all of the issues of rapacious overfishing all the more important. They make the need for precaution when it comes to fishing, and the need for fully protected areas essential.
The truth is that climate change is already affecting our oceans, and we don’t know what the outcome will be on currents/temperature/salinity, which means we can’t predict what impact it will have on plankton or anything more complicated.
Well, we are just back from the Sundance Film Festival and what it all means is only just beginning to sink in. The audiences loved our film, which warns that this may be the end of the line for fish in the world’s oceans, unless we take care. All our screenings were packed and followed by spirited Q&As.
Rupert Murray is interviewed for Italian television
Perhaps the most gratifying were the two screenings in Salt Lake City because the audiences were made up of members of the public - one was before 200 High School children who asked the best questions of the festival.
Number one, from a 16 year old boy, “Will there be fish to eat when I’m a grandfather?” Good question.
Being so close to the subject for so long, it was easy for us to forget just how shocking and how surprising the story of what is going on in the sea is to most people.
Even the questioner who said he knew most of the facts fell silent when we told him that in the week we arrived there was a piece in Science linking the depletion of fish in the world’s oceans with global warming, and confirming our worst predictions about the sea.
Ours was a very big subject indeed. We hope we have done it justice. Certainly our audiences thought we did.
So, we’ve been here at Sundance to help give Greenpeace support to the End Of The Line film.
In many ways this isn’t normal Greenpeace territory, and we found out with quite short notice that the movie was premiering here in Utah, so we scratched our collective heads and thought what to do.
In the end, and after some complicated logistics involving four Greenpeace offices (thank you guys!) we managed to get five Greenpeace US volunteers, and two red fish suits from Greenpeace Netherlands.
Park City during Sundance is crazy busy. The Main Street, hotels, and carparks are all chockablock, and everyone has a film to sell or see.
So, clearly we needed something to attract a bit of attention. And I think that a huge, round, red, fluffy fish is about as eye-catching as it gets. Our teams of volunteers alternated between being fish, and engaging with curious members of the Sundance public who wanted to know what’s going on. Continue reading ‘One fish, two fish, red fish . . . .’
So, what’s the movie we’re here in Sundance with about then? Well it’s an adaptation of Charles Clover’s brilliant book on overfishing, The End Of The Line, which is an evocative, and shocking portrayal of what we have done, and are doing to our oceans – just to put seafood on our plates.
Greenpeace guppies spread their message about overfishing on the ski slopes
Seafood is a global issue and practically nowhere on our seas is beyond human reach now – the movie gives an overview of the main issues like overfishing, destructive fishing and poor management.
Vessels catching mackerel around the Scottish coast have been awarded certification by the Marine Stewardship Council, recognising that their landings are from well-managed stocks.
This follows the certification of North Sea herring last year as a well managed stock that people can eat without fear that they are destroying the stock or destroying other species as by-catch.
The Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group is responsible for Scotland’s largest individual catches of fish. They landed 95,700 tons of mackerel in 2007. Smoked, frozen and fresh mackerel will soon be on sale bearing the MSC logo meaning that it can be traced back to the independently certified SPSG fishery.
The overfishing of the oceans is contributing to global warming, scientists have found.
They have discovered that the ocean’s ability to absorb pollution and purify the atmosphere is influenced by an unexpected factor – fish droppings.
Alkaline chemicals such as calcium carbonate from fish poo can help balance this acid and help to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere
The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only drives global warming, but also raises the amount of CO2 dissolved in ocean water, resulting in the sea becoming more acid and potentially a threat to sea life.
Alkaline chemicals such as calcium carbonate can help balance this acid and help to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Scientists previously thought the main source for this balancing chemical was the shells of marine plankton, but they were puzzled by the unexpected quantities of carbonate in the top levels of the water.
I’m writing this from Utah, a landlocked state in the US, which hosts the Sundance Film Festival each year.
Greenpeace stage a fun protest on overfishing with a walkabout by a guppie
Sundance is known as *the* place for new independent films, and we’re here to support a great new documentary movie about what overfishing is doing to our oceans.
As anyone familiar with the oceans campaign knows, after climate change, fishing is the biggest threat to life in our oceans – ruthlessly overfishing stocks, discarding perfectly-marketable fish, needlessly killing other species as bycatch, and trashing entire habitats with destructive fishing gear.
US domestic trade legislation could be used to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna after the failure of an international body to restrict rampant over-fishing of the endangered species.
Conservationists and concerned scientists are discussing applying for a US import ban after a UN-recognised body set up to manage Atlantic and Mediterranean tunas awarded fishermen a total allowable catch in excess of what scientists recommended amid warnings that the stock could collapse.
Member nations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas awarded fishermen in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic a quota of 22,000 tons this year against a scientific recommendation of 8,000-15,000 tons.
The United States is now a net importer of bluefin tuna, which would mean import restrictions against fish caught and ranched in the Mediterranean could have an effect on reducing international trade and placing pressure on other nations to follow suit.
Options being discussed by conservationists include a listing under the US Endangered Species Act and a listing under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which restricts trade in caviar and elephant ivory, but both of these would be hotly opposed by fishermen and fishing nations.
A resolution by the UN general assembly to reduce catches of bluefin tuna is another option under consideration.
Andrew Sharpless, executive director of Oceana, said: “ICCAT has shown that its true name is I CAN’T. It can’t find the courage to save the bluefin tuna from being commercially hunted and killed to where it is in danger of disappearing forever. Continue reading ‘US trade embargo could save bluefin tuna’
When the history of the last half century is written, will we think that governments, scientists and environmental leaders identified the right global problems and got to grips with them, as the human population doubled, and looked like doing so again?
Fish steaks - Rampant, uncontrolled fishing is already pushing whole species, such as the magnificent bluefin tuna towards extinction
Or will we think that huge problems emerged on our watch while reason slept?
The inconvenient truth about the sea, which covers 70 per cent of the Earth, is that arguably the worst impact upon it so far – if you study the latest scientific assessments - has been caused by the mundane pursuit of human food and not by global warming or acidification, major threats though these are to our common future. Continue reading ‘The inconvenient truth about the sea’
At the time of writing I am making last minute preparations to go to Sundance after a marathon two years of production and post-production of our ocean epic The End Of the Line. We only finished last week.
About two and half years ago I picked up a book called The End of The Line by Charles Clover in an airport lounge (a moment I have replayed many times in my mind since. Sometimes during the harder periods of production I wished that I had chosen the romantic novel sitting next to it).
I was on the way to Los Angeles to talk about making my previous doc into a feature and when I got off the plane I knew I had to make this book into a film and I put the feature on hold.
It was the film about the oceans I always had wanted to make but until that time no one had put all the pieces together in such an elegant, devastating and coherent way.
It has been an incredible experience for the whole Fish Team, myself included, to have worked on a film that we believe and hope will have a real impact on how we treat our seas.
The End Of The Line asks quite a hard question – how is it possible that 3.5 billion years of evolution in the sea could be extinguished in a single human lifetime?
Are we really going to see the end of wild fish in the sea over the next half century?
The Hollywood pitch for our film would be ‘The Blue Planet meets a lie detector test’. That film and many other natural history films about the oceans perpetuate a myth about the sea that is simply untrue – that life exists untouched by man. Continue reading ‘Preparing for the Sundance Film Festival’
We need posters, leaflets, business cards, DVD’s of the film, hats, badges, jackets all with our distinctive logo. Jenny our researcher and assistant has been working full time on the logistics of getting the entire team out to this frozen bit of Utah.
The press kits are ready, we have a house to stay in courtesy of the forward thinking of George the other producer, we have our flights booked but the most pressing thing is to try and get our website which is under construction, up and running by Thursday Jan 15. Conference calls, moving offices (again). Continue reading ‘Many things…’
We finished the film with a gnat’s breath between us and oblivion and it winged its way to Utah at the end of last week. Now the realisation that we have to spend nearly two weeks sharing a house - we being myself, the other producer, George, Charles, Rupert and Christo (one of our executive producers).
I think it’s fair to say we are all strong- minded, opinionated, bolshie extroverts with shared passions - saving the oceans and good wine. How this will unfold over the course of the festival who knows. Read this blog. Continue reading ‘Countdown to Sundance’
Fishing skippers, owners and an auctioneer in the port of Newlyn, England, have been convicted of deliberately overfishing protected fish stocks for financial gain and ordered by a judge to pay £190,000 in fines with more to come.
Six skippers, an owner and an auctioneer were convicted of a total of 114 specimen charges of fraudulently selling illegally-caught protected stocks such as cod and disguising them as non-quota species which could be landed legally.
George Bush has designated 200,000 square miles of the Pacific as conservation areas in a bid to re-write his conservation reputation before he leaves office.
Mr Bush, who has steadfastly refused to impose statutory limits on carbon dioxide emissions to combat global warming, became the leader who has protected more of the oceans than anyone else in the world.