Josef here in Washington, DC! You may have heard that some colleagues of mine are currently in Park City, Utah, attending the 2009 Sundance Film Festival to help draw attention to the plight of overfishing on our seas as documented in the Sundance entry End Of the Line. Willie MacKenzie, an Oceans campaigner from Greenpeace UK, has joined our international delegation at the film festival and brings you this latest report.
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.
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. The movie takes a global look at the true price we’re paying for our seafood, vividly illustrating the impact we’re having, but that very few of us even realise.
All-too-often the things that concern us in the ocean involve what we refer to as “charismatic megafauna”– the big cuddly animals that people like to like. But if you really do care about whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, and seabirds, then you have to care about all the other sealife too. They can’t exist in isolation, and as well as killing these critters directly as “bycatch” we are also trashing their homes, and destroying their food sources too. To add insult to injury the disastrous effects of excessive and destructive fishing are all compounded more by the other ways we upset the ocean, like the impacts of climate change and pollution.
The film really gives you a vivid idea of just how vast, and urgent the issue is. And, as Charles Clover himself says in the film, at a time when human population is increasing exponentially, and when the impacts of climate change are affecting us all, unless we act now to stop overfishing, we will have squandered one of the most important natural resources we have.
So, assuming you care about the ocean, whether you just like the cuddly animals, or like the amazing, fascinating, weird ones, or assuming you like eating fish – this matters to you. And the film explains succinctly why. The oceans belong to all of us, not the fishing industry, the oil & gas industry, or the politicians who seem to listen only to them - and all of us need to claim them back.
Yet, there is still hope. And if there is one message from the movie to take home (and one that’s all the more relevant being in the USA today) it’s that change is possible. If we want to move to sustainable methods and levels of fishing, then we can. And we can give our oceans protection by creating no-take Marine Reserves.
So if you’re wondering if this problem is one we can solve – the simple answer is “Yes, We Can.”
Check out the trailer online now at www.endoftheline.com
[I'm here w/ a fantastic crew of GP volunteers, but as I've just arrived I'll hand this over to Willie MacKenzie from our UK office. Be nice to him, he's been out in the cold all day! John H]
"I’m writing this from Utah, a landlocked state in the US, which hosts the Sundance Film Festival each year. 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. Yet since its being done out at sea, and out of sight, it’s largely out of mind for most people. Just how much thought do most people give to the fish they eat? Do they know where it comes from? How it was caught? In many ways the situation in our oceans is leagues behind where we’re at on land – no one would ever consider serving tiger sushi, filet-o-rhino, or gorilla steaks, yet endangered fish species are still on the menu in the most fashionable fish restaurants.
But it’s okay, right? There are still fish in the supermarkets, so why worry? And fishermen and politicians, it’s in their best interest to ‘manage’ our oceans properly, surely?
Sadly, no. Both fishermen and politicians repeatedly ignore scientific advice, and both professions seem prone to taking short term decisions. And the result is disastrous. 90 % of the big fish in our oceans (tuna, sharks, swordfish, cod etc.) have gone in the last few decades. Three-quarters of global fisheries are either fully exploited, or overexploited, or totally trashed. And we have to fish further and further down the food chain, in areas we’ve never fished before, and for species we’d have previously ignored or thought unpalatable (krill burger, anyone?)
The world’s appetite for fish is running unchecked, and ruining life in our oceans. And it doesn’t stop there, of course, as an ocean devoid of fish would have drastic ramifications for the many millions of humans who depend on them too.
So that’s why we’re here at Sundance, with some eager volunteers from the US, and some big red ‘Guppie’ fish costumes from Holland, braving the mountain cold of Utah in January, to help promote the premiere of this new movie. People need to know what’s happening in OUR oceans, what needs to be done, and how they can start to redress the balance themselves – that’s the basis of Greenpeace’s oceans campaign, and it’s exactly what the End Of The Line is all about.
Contrary to popular belief, there aren’t plenty more fish in the sea. And if we don’t take drastic action now to fish better, fish less, and create large-scale Marine Reserves where fishing and other destructive activity is prohibited, it may very well be the End Of The Line.
Check out www.endoftheline.com and watch out for updates on what’s been happening at Sundance.
This is a story, or part of one, written in today's Anchorage Daily News (you can read the whole story at ADN.com):
A heartsick letter describing cash-strapped families choosing between food and heating fuel in the village of Emmonak has state officials reconsidering a long-simmering request to declare a financial disaster in the region.I am posting this story here because I hope you focus on the problem of the people in Western Alaska not being able to care for themselves, much less their families. This can be due to the large salmon by catch the pollock industry has when they are fishing for pollock in Bristol Bay. We at Greenpeace have been working to force the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to cut down the salmon by catch, or cut the pollock fishery down to a few days to stop the constant raping of the ocean, taking much needed food away from our people in the villages.
"I'm just now today getting information in from surrounding villages," said Tara Jollie, director of the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs.
A letter written by Nicholas Tucker of Emmonak describing parents battling to feed their families in his hometown -- plus concerns from others in the region -- prompted state department heads to plan a teleconference this morning. The topic: a crippling combination of high fuel prices, poor commercial fishing prospects and an unusual cold snap in the Yup'ik village and others like it.
One of the more serious problems facing the people, especially the children of Village Alaska, is malnutrition. When we are not able to get our foods, especially the food we have depended upon for thousands of years, many physical and spiritual problems develop. This is the main reason we have been working on the establishment of the Marine Cultural Heritage Zones. We need to bring attention to this serious problem.
Thank you all for your continued support and attention. We are working diligently to bring environmental justice to Village Alaska.
As many of you know, in another life, I served as a Priest of the Holy Orthodox Church for about twenty years. I was happy. I knew my mission and I wallowed in it. As time went on, I stumbled and fell, behaving in ways unbecoming a person of my position, and so the Holy Synod of Bishops did me a blessing and releaved me of that awesome responsibility. For that love I am grateful. But, this is not what I wanted to talk about.
No matter whom and what we might believe in, either Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Mohammad as a Profit, Moses, or Budda, we all know there is right and wrong at play in this world. There is good and evil. In that line, and for those who will, it is our responsibility to root out evil, or bad, when we know of it. All of us know when that "something" is happening and present. We can sometimes feel it, taste it and know of its works. It is divisive, separating and not caring what it does. It rejoices in greed, division and suffering of others. Simply, evil or bad, celebrates our differences and uses those differences against us. This is common when we speak about resources and those who will take and take without any concern for those who do not have the ability to take advantage of its bounty.
In our work, it seems, that division is particularly noticeable. We work day in and day out, trying to find a balance between the haves and the have nots. We struggle to make the playing field even for all. And sometimes we falter in our efforts, not because we no longer believe, but because as people we often come up against a brick wall. And we lose hope. You see, if we do our work with good and pure intentions to right what is wrong, our work will be successful and we will not lose hope. But if we do our work with dark internal intentions of hurting another with a different opinion, we will lose hope and our work will not be good. Oh, we may have some victories, but they will be short lived. What we want to do is right wrongs, do good, and work for that end. Our mission as advocates is to walk a fine line, a sharp edged sword, to fulfill that goal. And it begins with purity of heart. I am doing this because it is right and for no other reason. If we save one species of plant or animal from extinction and have not a pure heart, our work is for naught. Examples abound. I with my work with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, others with climate change and forests and whales. We can only succeed with purity of mind and heart. Our reasons and efforts must be to teach and help others understand what is right and good. As my friend reminded me not too long ago, this kind of work will take time. I cried at those words because I had forgotten my mission.
I know there are many who will "spin" this with thoughts and better arguments. I am not trying to convince you of my beliefs. I am simply asking that we think about this. This is not to say that I think we are doing otherwise, nor focusing on something I see we are either doing or not. Just saying something. Something to think about, because I do know, if what we do is not without truth and honesty, no matter what we do it will not work.
As the season of peace and love draws and the promises of a new year appear, the promise of a new administration offer us hope, let us renew our efforts to work with honesty and truthfulness. Only in this way will we have any real success.
As the delegates at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Korea negotiate tuna into extinction, our oceans team over there has been asking them to fill out this survey:
WHAT SORT OF FISHERIES MANAGER ARE YOU?
Your scientists tell you to end overfishing by reducing effort by 30%. Do you:
You watch another fisheries commission fail miserably to save their stock from collapse and instead head towards commercial extinction. Do you:
You discover that part of your fishing area is riddled with pirates and they are stealing fish from your legal fishing fleets. Do you:
What proportion of your delegation has vested interests in the fishing industry?
Where would you advise your fishing industry to invest their profits?
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