Today we’re blogging live from the American Community School in Abu Dhabi, where students have watched an abbreviated version of a documentary called The End of the Line. Based on Charles Clover’s book of the same name, the documentary conveys a crucial message: if we (and our governments) don’t make radical changes now, by 2048 there will be no more fish in our oceans. Joined by Rashid Sumaila, Director of the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Center, Nessrine Alzahlawi from EWS-WWF, and Melanie Salmon from Global Ocean, we’re eager to hear from kids. Step on in to learn how the children feel about our dwindling fish stock.
Melanie Salmon from Global Ocean and Rashid Sumaila from the University of British Columbia pose in front of a pair of virtual clown fish.
Before starting the documentary, the event’s organizer Beth Margolis warns children and parents about what they are about to watch.
“There are parts of the film that are not like Nemo,” she says. When she asks “who knows Nemo,” almost all of the children throw their hands into the air. “If you start to feel sad, you can tell us.”
A few boys flip through the EWS-WWF “choose wisely” consumer guide.
Directly after the film, Beth facilitates a small discussion with the children.
Coby says, “the fish might taste good, but if you only sell this kind of fish, you’re gonna run out.”
Another boy asks: “do we need to stop eating fish?”
Nessrine explains to the children that one of the most popular fish species in the UAE is also endangered.
“Hamour is one of the most overfished species of fish in the world,” she says. “What you guys can do to help is choose fish that are sustainable.”
Another boy asks, “what can we tell the people who sell the fish to help them?” He never received an answer, but demonstrates an understanding of just how multi-faceted the challenge of overfishing has become.
Asked to make a statement about the message they would like to spread to the world, one boy says, “the sea’s life depends on you,” to which Mr. Sumaila responds that indeed three billion people in the world get 15% of their protein from the sea.
At the end, everyone stands up to take the following pledge:
I pledge to ask where my fish comes from and how it was caught.
I pledge to try to eat only sustainable seafood.
I pledge to tell people in charge that we want marine protected areas.
I pledge to tell my friends about the problems of the ocean and ask them to help me to protect the global seas.
I pledge to campaign to save the bluefin tuna before it becomes extinct.
I pledge to be a global citizen and do my part to protect the sea.
EWS-WWF has launched their “Choose Wisely” consumer guide in which they document exactly which fish in the UAE are overfished and should therefore be avoided. Their handy guide also outlines which fish are safe to eat.
Also available is a recipe book that details twenty recipes that incorporate sustainable fish species. For more information please visit www.ewswwf.ae.
More on overfishing in the United Arab Emirates: