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  1. Wealth
May 15, 2009

Hook, line, sunk

By Spear's

Next month will see the release of a film that hopes to do for fish what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change.

Next month will see the release of a film that hopes to do for fish what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change. Because while those in the food world and others who know and care about the plight of depleting fish stocks have been talking about this for ages, sometimes you need to get something onto the telly to get people to pay attention.

End of the Line is a film produced by environmental journalist Charles Clover whose book of the same name made considerable ripples. The movie, it is hoped, will produce a somewhat larger splash.

And as I saw a preview some time ago I can tell you that it should. It’s beautifully shot – lots of nice underwater pictures of large shoals of colourful fish – there’s great music and it’s all cut with powerful, dramatic footage of Charles and his cohorts travelling the world and challenging everyone from fishing companies to restaurants on the subject of sustainability.

Now you might well think that this is all a bit of a nuisance. Yet another burden on the poor consumer who is already besieged by messages to buy Fairtrade or organic or to choose his or her wines according to the moon’s lunar cycles.

Yet it is of course important to eat ethically and to consume ethically. And fortunately responsible supermarkets like Waitrose do the work for you. You don’t have to worry about any of the fish you buy in a Waitrose because they buy all their fish from sustainable sources.

But why all the fuss? Well, here are some statistics for you to mull over. An international group of economists and ecologists have warned that our seas could actually run out of fish by 2048. Recent research reveals the staggering fact that in 1989 the world’s wild fish reserves peaked and they have been declining ever since.

Ninety per cent of the ocean’s large fish have been fished out and global fishing fleets are 250 per cent larger than the oceans can sustainably support.

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Meanwhile did you know that one of the world’s biggest fishing companies is Mitsubishi? And there we were thinking they just made cars. Mitsubishi come under particular attack in the film because of the way they have fished, almost to extinction, blue fin tuna. And they are rather sneakily freezing massive stocks. Which means that when the fish runs out they’ll control the market.

So if you don’t like the idea of huge trawlers throwing back eighty per cent of their catch dead and unwanted into the sea to meet quotas and market demands or the idea that these same trawlers scour the sea floor in a manner that is the equivalent of ploughing a field seven times a year, sit up and go and see this film when it comes out.

Start asking chefs and restaurateurs where they buy their fish. Is it from a sustainable source? How was it caught? Who caught it? How traceable is it?

Over the coming weeks I’ll be attempting to gather as many chefs and others to support this cause and then to challenge any chef not to buy fish that is not traceable or sustainable.

With such a huge and fantastic choice of fish that will not assist the destruction of species there is no excuse.

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