"End of the Line" film rings alarm on fish supply

Mon Jul 6, 2009 11:32am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If sushi lovers think the price of their favorite raw fish is too high already, then the new documentary "The End of the Line" may shock them with its argument that the real cost may be some species' extinction.

The film from director Rupert Murray, which is playing in art houses in the United States and United Kingdom, makes the case that consumer ignorance, clout of the fishing industry, and rising sushi demand in the West are causing "crashes" of numerous fish populations, leading to their "collapse."

"Food is one of the ways we have a massive impact on the planet," Murray told Reuters about his movie, which is based on the book of the same name by U.K. journalist Charles Clover.

A dire prediction cited in the film is most seafood will disappear in 40 years if current fishing practices persist -- a forecast the fishing industry and officials dispute.

"All the federal (fish) stocks are trending in the right direction. Very few will be considered overfished," said Dan Furlong, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Indeed, U.S. fish stocks are better managed, such as those in Alaska, whose fishery program is shown in Murray's film.

But others species like the bluefin tuna and the Chilean sea bass -- have not been so lucky. Huge demand, plus questionable hunting practices, for these fish are pushing them near extinction, according to Murray.

"An industrial fleet can wipe out a species in about 10 years," he said.   Continued...

<p>Tuna on a sushi rotates on a conveyor-belt at a sushi bar in Kushiro in the eastern part of Hokkaido, northern Japan, February 10, 2007. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>