End Of The Line Review: Oh My Cod
END OF THE LINE: Saturday 6th March, Channel 4, 7.15pm ALERT ME
When we look at a piece of fish on our plate, what do we know about it? Is it an endangered species? Is it caught legally? Would it be better off feeding an inhabitant of Africa?
Chances are your average restaurant meal doesn’t provoke such questions. For journalist and author of End Of The Line Charles Clover, a stumble into the wrong lecture, showing the realities of the fishing industry, was the start of his journey to find out what was happening to oceanic life.
The resulting film, shot over two years, tells us exactly that. Since the 1950s explosion of the large-scale fishing industry, the abundance of large fish has declined by 90 per cent. The giant blue fin tuna, for example, has declined by 80 per cent over the last ten years, leading to near-extinction.
Moreover, we learn that high-tech industrial vessels and ‘bottom trawlers’ mean that fish have no chance of escaping. And if you want a really shocking fact: in 50 years, scientists predict they’ll be no fish left.
The documentary doesn’t simply rattle off facts, though; they’re proven via interviewing fishermen, scientists and the investigative skills of Clover alike. And when you see the ocean for what it really is, something definitely smells fishy.
With EU ministers setting the blue fin tuna fishing quota to the third of its entire population and the abundance of illegal fishing (worth up to 25 billion dollars a year), the ‘race to catch the last fish’ is happening all over the world. As tax payers from the West send huge ships to catch African fish, we are shown inhabitants’ unable to stay in their own country.
With one scientist predicting that we’ll soon be down to ‘mud and worms’, the fundamental question is soon asked: what can our generation do to stop us reaching the end of the line? The documentary spends ample time on this section, including Clover pressurising Nobu to take endangered fish off their menus.
‘If lions and orangutans were on there people would go crazy,’ he says. ‘Yes we are doing the same things to the fish in the sea’.
A documentary that makes you sit up, take note and possibly change your way of thinking. Watch it.