Saturday, March 06, 2010

Review: End of the line

This evening I've watched "End of the line" and it's a horror. Not just for the blood and the scenes of death but what it means for our oceans and our future.

On all the graphs of numbers of fish the lines are heading downwards. We are heading for extinction events, for empty oceans, and we as humans are failing the challenge set to us.

What should be a gift, a wondrous resource, is being plundered by those who care not or understand not what the consequences are of their actions.

Take bluefin tuna. As one scientist put it, "it's not a question of when stocks collapse, it's when". The science suggests that a catch of 15,000 tonnes would be sustainable and 10,000 would permit them to recover, but the politicians are giving out quotas permitting nearly 30,000 tonnes.

But the reality is twice that, because if you add the illegal catch it reaches of over 60,000 tonnes.

It's a classic case of the tragedy of the commons, which is described as "a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently, and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen."

We still have time, and good fish management such as in Alaskan waters can work. However if there are more do-nothing talking shops like Copenhagen then things look black.

But we can all help out. I had fish tonight, but it was from sustainable sources. If we don't check before we buy, then we risk turning the seas into a wasteland of algae and jelly fish.

It's part of a bigger picture, and the key question of the 21st Century: are we humans able to manage our planet or will we destroy it, knowing as we do what we are doing?


O Docker said...

Found this online - major segments of the film and interviews with the director - about an hour of video altogether.

In California and Oregon, the entire salmon fishery has been shut down for the past two years. Here, it's more complicated than simple overfishing. Mismanagement of local water resources is also suspected. But the salmon population has been almost wiped out over a 10-year period.

JP said...

Thanks for that - will look into both links.

doryman said...

If we are waiting to see if we have a true crisis to respond, the time is here. The indicators have been argued for long enough. Even the fishermen in my community, who have denied science as propaganda, can no longer claim there are plenty of fish. Salmon have sustained this community for generations, but for the last two years, there have been very few salmon.