Likely turn-off for fish-lovers

Posted: July 03, 2009

The End of the Line, an eco-mentary that warns against overfishing, baits its hook with alarmist rhetoric and aversion therapy.

First, filmmaker Rupert Murray treats us to undersea footage of iridescent fish frolicking in coral reefs. He intercuts this with nausea-inducing images of bluefin tuna being gutted, sliced, and greedily consumed. Then he offers the expert testimony: If fishing continues at current rates, the planet's oceans will be fished out by midcentury.

The film's strident tone is established by Charles Clover, the British investigative reporter on whose work the documentary is based.

It's true, as he says, that once-plentiful cod no longer swim the waters off Newfoundland and that bluefin tuna, so prized by sushi-lovers, is likewise in danger of extinction. But he says it with such confrontational absolutism that he has the opposite of his intended effect.

The film's other talking heads more persuasively make the point that it is not fishing that is the enemy. It is industrial-scale trawling, they say, that depletes undersea resources as strip-mining depletes the Earth's, that is to blame.

Fish-farming isn't the answer, experts point out, because grinding small fish to grow bigger food fish is not sustainable. The most horrifying statistic: During the last century, 90 percent of the world's large fish have vanished from the oceans.

What's a fish-lover to do? For starters, know where your fish comes from. Don't consume endangered species. After watching this film, you may never want to eat fish again.


Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey

at 215-854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com.

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