Drowning in Plastic

A deep dive into a global security threat by a mafia at sea

It’s one of the world’s most dangerous and illicit businesses, on an area covering 70 percent of our world’s surface.

With grave economic and environmental consequences, illegal fishing is a trade that rakes oceans, depletes entire species and even enslaves humans, all for a fast profit.

The FAO estimates illegal fishing represents up to 26 million tons of fish caught annually, and is valued at tens of billions of dollars.

Ocean’s Cartels dives into the waters of Southeast Asia and Europe, to explore this treacherous business on the high seas, while seeking to uncover if our very survival on land is at risk, if illegal fishing removes all life from our oceans.

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DIRECTOR Q&A | JÉRÔME PIN

JÉRÔME PIN

DIRECTOR JÉRÔME PIN

What attracted you to the story of Ocean’s Cartels?

When my producer Sophie Jeanneau told me about this story, I knew that it could make a very good film. All the ingredients of a good recipe were there: investigation, environment, crime, mafia, human story, slavery, exotic countries, etc. Then I began to research and it quickly confirmed my thoughts. It was a huge story.

Why was it important to tell this story?

I think that for me the more important thing was to show to the public the backstage of illegal fishing, going to the shadows of the problem. Nobody could have ever imagined what happened in those very lost islands of Indonesia where people were kept in slavery conditions. No one knew about this human trafficking where more than 2000 men where inhumanely mistreated, some of them for more than 20 years. So of course in this film the environment, the problem was very interesting to explain but for me the more important element was the human point of view, just a way to pay tribute to all those men who have lost their lives in total oblivion.

What should we know about your filmmaking process?

I just wanted the public to feel the disgust and the outrage of this situation. I wanted to show in a very simple way what is happening millions of miles away from nowhere, very far from our Western daily life´s reality. It was quite an expedition to reach these people lost on tiny islands but it was worth it for the film and for my personal human experience.

Did you make any unexpected discoveries while shooting? 

One of the most impressive feelings I had during the shoot, was when I had to face all the illegal fishermen we captured in the South China Sea. I didn’t expect such huge numbers of them. I felt very sad too, when I learned that with slavery survivors, there are many more lost slaves’ cemeteries in the jungle, still to be discovered.

What do you hope your documentary will achieve?

I hope that people will become aware of this huge problem regarding illegal fishing, considering that it has a lot of repercussion on human life and that’s it’s not “just” an environmental issue. Maybe it’s about time to pay more attention to the fish served on our plates because those fish have a history.

DOCUMENTARY SELECTS

Click on any image for full screen slideshow.

EU RULES TO COMBAT IUU: ILLEGAL UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED FISHING

INFOGRAPHIC | EU RULES TO COMBAT IUU: ILLEGAL UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED FISHING

UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION OF THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS)

In 1982, the United Nations adopted a convention on the Law of the Sea.

The document, designed to preserve the resources of the world’s oceans and designates the rights and responsibilities of the ocean’s custodianship.

More than 160 countries have signed onto the convention, and are working towards its goals.

Read about the convention, here:

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND | FROM BAIT TO PLATE

The World Wildlife Fund is dedicated to saving species and landscapes, addressing large global threats and complex problems.

It calls illegal fishing a global epidemic, and lays out a plan to combat it not at sea, but in the world’s markets, restaurants and kitchens.

Read here about their “Bait to Plate” initiative to trace seafood from origin to consumption.

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