It's ironic that within a couple of weeks of this film being released to DVD, the world's leaders decided to do nothing to protect Bluefin tuna. Delegates to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora succumbed to lobbying from Japan, a nation that in devouring 4/5 of the world's Bluefin creates a lucrative and addictive market for developing nations to provide fish flesh for Japanese consumers.
The End of the Line is not a film specifically about Bluefin, but about modern fishing and the decline of sea stocks. This is no Cove. There is no late night skulking, no high tech gadgetry, no villainous fishermen, no tension, no pathos. It's more like Food, Inc. for the seafood industry, a rather conservatively shot documentary with some lovely ocean photography, a few graphs showing depressing and repetitive declines in populations of some of the world's more commonly consumed fish, and lots of talking heads, most notably The Daily Telegraph's environmental reporter Charles Clover, Professor Jeffrey Hutchings (Dalhousie University), Dr Boris Worm (Dalhousie University), Professor Daniel Pauly (University of British Columbia) and Prof Yvonne Sadovy (University of Hong Kong). There's a sequence with a former Bluefin fisherman that looks like it might offer a taste of drama. His life is now one of loitering in hotel rooms near wharves photographing fishing ships or following them about on the oceans hoping to document how some countries get around fishing quotas. He ends up in a hotel in Tokyo chatting with someone on his mobile and we never hear from him again, nor about anything he may have uncovered.
Perhaps the most telling scene is reporter Clover's telephone interview with a Managing Partner of Nobu's, one of the world's premiere Japanese restaurants and sellers of Bluefin at retail locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Cornered on film about serving a species that is predicted to disappear within the next half decade, Managing Partner Richie Notar boasts that he's now prepared to identify Bluefin on Nobu menus as an endangered species. When Clover presses Notar on whether he thinks this will make any difference in consumer demand, Notar compares selling Bluefin to selling tobacco. The consumer, he says, has to take some responsibility.
And presumably until the consumer does, Nobu is going to take it's cut. And so will everyone else down the line until one day it's all gone and there's no cut left to take.
This is not a hugely entertaining film, but it is informative. Watching it just might change the way you eat.