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Monday, May 27, 2013

SIFF Sighting: THE LAST OCEAN (documentary; New Zealand)

Each year that I cover the Seattle International Film Festival, there is always one environmental documentary that gives me pause for the future of mankind. This year, that film is The Last Ocean.

This work serves as a plea to preserve the Ross Sea—a.k.a. the last perfect ocean ecosystem in existence.

The land around this arctic paradise is protected, but the water is not; and without the clean water providing life for the hundreds of fish and mammals that make their life there, significant climate change will result.

The approach of the film is not preachy or propaganda-like, it's calm and productive just like the area it's hoping so desperately to save. If the world stops the commercial fishing currently happening there and declare the sea a Marine Protected Area (MPA), all of the bad things that are happening can be reversed.

Some may wonder why this specific part of the water is so important to preserve? Well, unlike every other major body of water on earth, this portion has not been compromised by pollution or external forces, which makes it a living laboratory for scientists worldwide to study how perfect ecosystems should function. The Ross Sea is also the most productive area in the Southern Ocean—it is home to an abundance of populations of wildlife, some of which are native to the area and can only be found there.

The argument against protecting this ocean comes, of course, from the fishing communities that insist they take every precaution to do so responsibly. In some cases, they are telling the truth, but the limits on such fishing cannot be completely contained and the nature of the climate there make it an incredibly dangerous place to fish. Furthermore, their aggressive removal of Chilean sea bass is threatening to throw the ecosystem completely off balance.

Even if you're not an ocean activist, you should see this film if not to enjoy the stunning images of underwater life that may only continue to exist for a short amount of time.

THE LAST OCEAN will screen at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival on June 7 & 8. For tickets, click here.

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