More than 100 film festivals are held each year in the U.S. Arguably, the most important ones are those that cast a light on environmental issues. Washington has hosted “The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital” since 1993. This year they’re showing 190 films from 50 countries.
Our attendance has been sporadic. We picked up the ball today and took in “The Last Ocean” (New Zealand, 2012, 85 minutes).
Peter Young made introductory remarks. His film focuses on the Ross Sea at the Antarctica. At his blog he notes, “the Ross Sea is the nearest thing we have to 100% pure natural ocean.”
Young and The Last Ocean Charitable Trust are trying to protect the Ross Sea from commercial fishing. Its remoteness from the rest of the world kept fishers out, but that barrier was torn down in 1996. After seeing Patagonian toothfish stocks depleted in other parts of the world, fishers from New Zealand made their way to the Ross Sea and found Antarctic toothfish, an equivalent fish. Both are marketed and sold as Chilean Sea Bass.
The film shows the pristine beauty of the Ross Sea, and the preciousness of its inhabitants. Over a third of the world’s Adelie penguin population lives here, as well as 26 % of the Emperor Penguins. Dr. David Ainley, a Scientific Advisor and marine biologist from San Francisco, has studied the ecosystems there for the past 40 years. When the first fishing vessel arrived, he was stunned.
This issue will get more attention next week. Secretary of State John Kerry and New Zealand ambassador to the US, Mike Moore, are scheduled to speak in Washington about the issue of overfishing. Both countries are working with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to help conserve this precious resource.