SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH (Mark Hall, 2011) blew audiences away at the San Francisco Green Film Festival 2012 with this revealing documentary on the environmental cost of sushi. Pairing the film screening with a lively panel debate and a take-home action step guide, the Festival actively engaged the audience to think differently about this specialty food.
It’s hard to imagine now, but sushi was once a simple food sold only by Japanese street vendors. The film documents the international explosion of sushi consumption over the past 30 years and reveals the problematic future of this popular cuisine.
The audience was given an insight into Tokyo’s famous fish market, which sells 2,000 tons of fish every day to buyers across the world. As fish supplies are declining rapidly, demand is booming. The depletion of stocks of predators, such as Bluefin tuna, has the potential to upset the delicate ecological balance of our oceans. Our current hunger for fish is not sustainable.
As a coastal state with a taste for culinary delicacies, California is currently grappling with this very issue. The screening made for a buzzing panel debate about how to make sustainable food choices. Sushi restaurateurs, ocean researchers and advocates, including Casson Trenor, David McGuire, and Wallace J. Nichols, joined film director Mark Hall to discuss potential solutions to this global dilemma. David McGuire, Founder of Sea Stewards, set out on a campaign to implement a statewide ban on the shark fin trade. Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually, mostly for their fins to be used in shark fin soup. Spreading the word at the Festival was a very effective way to explain why sharks are critical to Ocean health and why the ban, put into effect in July 2013, is so important.
The “Take Action!” handout for SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH provided suggestions for people to get involved in ocean conservation, whether they are ready to invest five minutes, two hours, or would like to dedicate their life to support this worthwhile cause. As a lasting visual reminder, attendees were also presented with a blue marble, demonstrating the fragility and vitality of our blue planet.
Bringing SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH and the panel discussion that followed to the Festival had a clear and powerful impact on the festival audience, with many attendees giving strong reactions to the film in the festival’s Video Story Booth. The filmmakers were honored to receive the Festival’s Audience Award, voted by attendees and given in recognition of their inspiring story-telling.