Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
It once was said that the cod were so populous off the coast of Nova Scotia that you could walk on the sea on their backs. Now they have virtually disappeared. The cod, the "fish" in "fish and chips," has been overfished to near extinction. Other fish species are following.
There is heartfelt footage in "The End of the Line," circa 1992, of angry, panicked fishermen besieging a hearing room where a government minister is calling for a moratorium on cod fishing. Brian Mulroney, Canada’s prime minister at the time, declares it a necessity. These fishermen have depended on the cod for a living, and in many cases so have their fathers back for many generations. The Canadian maritime provinces were largely settled because of the fishing industry.
A moratorium was imposed. But in 1992, it was already too late. The cod did not come back. They are virtually gone from those waters. Many documentaries about the ecology issue dire warnings of crises that will strike at some point in the future. Opponents of these films scoff at them. But "End of the Line" in large part is about what has already irrefutably happened.
Factory fishing grew too quickly, unsupervised, and damaged some fish populations so severely that their very sustainability was put into question. Giant trawlers prowled the seas halfway around the world from their ports. They used technology such as sonar to pinpoint schools of fish and bottom trawling to capture great masses of them, while incidentally wreaking havoc on the seabed.