The end of the line?

Posted by jossc — 5 June 2009 at 3:32pm - Comments
Author Charles Clover and director Rupert Murray at work on 'The End of the Line'.

The End Of The Line author Charles Clover talks to us about his book, the film and the plight of the ocean.

What's the film about?

It's an adaptation of my book, exploring how fishing is currently the most destructive human activity on 70 per cent of the planet's surface.

Fishing with modern technology is wiping out whole ecosystems we have barely started to understand. It's driving species such as the bluefin tuna towards extinction, undermining the food security of billions of people and damaging the oceans ability to act as a sink for carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – all to provide us with delicious things to eat.

What inspired you to write a book about overfishing?

In the 1980s, I caught a very large salmon, one of the last of its kind. People didn't think then that angling pressure could possibly wipe out a salmon population but a scientist called David Solomons proved that, on the River Wye, it could. I began to feel guilty that I hadn't put my big salmon back to spawn.

As I became a full-time environment journalist, I began to ask myself what chance had sea fish of surviving the vastly more destructive fishing methods that were thrown at them than my simple salmon fly?

Then, at a press conference in The Hague in 1990, I saw the effect of beam-trawling on the bed of the sea and the fish and other creatures that lived there. The scientist who had done the research, Han Lindeboom, said the effect of trawling was the same as ploughing a field seven times in a year. I knew that meant not much would grow there at all.

What's your vision for the oceans?

We need enormous marine reserves, where no one is allowed to fish. Fishing also needs to be much more selective and the public should be a lot less tolerant of illegal fishing. As consumers of fish we can help bring this about by making sure we buy fish only from people who can prove they caught them in a sustainable manner.

What is happening to fish stocks is what happened to the great whales decades ago and that was not stopped without taking action to stop whalers on the high seas and on peoples TV screens.

How do you feel about marine reserves?

The British government pledged to have a network of marine reserves by 2010, but its marine bill says this will actually happen by 2020. There is a curious lack of urgency. I think it is time that citizens spoke to our politicians and told them to get on with it.

The End Of The Line was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is coming soon to a cinema near you. Visit for more information.

Cheers star Ted Danson is the film's narrator. Here he explains why...

Marine Reserves Now!

Greenpeace and the End Of The Line team are supporting Marine Reserves Now, a campaign led by the Marine Conservation Society.

Marine Reserves Now is calling for a network of large scale, fully protected, marine reserves covering at least 30 per cent of the UK's seas. Scientists tell us that we need to be protecting this much of our seas to defend vulnerable species and habitats, to make our oceans more resilient and to help provide healthy stocks of fish for decades to come.

Take action: ask your MP to back Marine Reserves Now!

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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