The End of the Line

The End of the Line featured image

reviewed by Marc Glassman

The End of the Line.
Rupert Murray, director. Charles Clover, script
Full-length documentary on worldwide over-fishing

We’re living in an age of cautionary tales, particularly in the documentary genre. Just last month, Food, Inc. demonstrated that animals are gravely mistreated and our crops controlled by rapacious conglomerates that prefer profits to nutrition and capitalism to an ethical respect for the land. Now The End of the Line exposes what’s happening at sea.

It isn’t good.

We’re over-fishing the oceans and rivers and lakes of this planet. If things continue, the last fish might be eaten by 2050. British director Rupert Murray and scriptwriter and science journalist Charles Clover have created a devastating essay on a world going wrong. They traveled from Newfoundland to Gibraltar to Senegal to show how quickly the over-fishing has occurred: many people in their thirties, across the globe, remember when the water was less polluted and fish were abundant.

That’s surely not the case today.

The tragic tale of the Newfoundland cod industry, widely known here but not abroad, depicts how a beautiful resource, which had fed the population down East for centuries was squandered by greedy companies that over-fished the area in less than two decades. The filmmakers interview restaurant spokesperson Richie Notar from Nobu about why the five star fish emporium continues to serve bluefish tuna, even though it’s an endangered species.
The End of the Line is a remarkably well-made film, boasting great cinematography and a sprightly soundtrack. In-between hard hitting interviews, there are wonderful montages of the lives that people still lead in port towns, at sea and in factories. Didactic but in a good way, the film is as entertaining as possible, while dealing with harsh realities.

In the end, the filmmakers propose a solution: increase the number of conservation areas in the world. At present, less than 1% of the oceans are protected from the fishing industry. What would happen if 10 or 20% percent of the oceans were not available for fishing?

It wouldn’t be “the end of the line,” after all.

Rupert Murray and Charles Clover have created an important film. I urge you to see it.

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