The documentary explores the implications of the changing relationship between humans and how we manipulate ecosystems for our benefit and survival. It focuses specifically on fishing of wild salmon. Throughout the piece, we can see a clear parallel path between the technological advancement of the society and communities that practice fishing and the depletion of the wild salmon population.
It is not a new trajectory. Societies were initially built around hunting and gathering. As generations advanced and humans developed technology, the way we interact with the environment changed. We began to use technology to manipulate ecosystems, and during that process we lost many unique species. Attempts are being made to ensure the entire salmon run does not meet that ultimate fate.
Different stakeholders have different takes on the situation. The main consensus is that preserving the species should be the ultimate focus. Initial efforts focused on regulation, but this was unsuccessful as a solution and continued societal advancement meant it would negatively affect natural reproduction of the salmon population. It was decided that a remedial approach in the form of artificial propagation was the best option.
This desire led to the creation of hatcheries to help preserve the species in a more controlled environment. However, the approach poses its own challenges. Some are of the view that any attempt to control nature rather than work with it will lead to an impoverished life. The effect of the hatcheries is not as one would expect since it lowers the quality of fishes in the wild.
The documentary gives a look beyond the finished salmon on the plate. It gives a view into the real interdependence of the communities that depend on salmon runs not just for food but as a part of their cultural way of life. It examines the role politics and commerce play and how they seem to trump preservation of the ecosystem in the short term.
The reality is that nature has proven quite capable of restoring what humans struggle to produce, but only in conditions where it can do so with minimal to no human interference. The main consensus is clear; salmon should not be allowed to go extinct. It remains difficult to conclude which is truly the best solution. Reducing the human footprint might only be achieved by reducing the human population. The ultimate question remains whether we can or will do what is necessary.
Directed by: Josh "Bones" Murphy