The Sacred Cod - Film Analysis Essay

Paper Type:  Movie review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1265 Words
Date:  2022-10-14


The sacred cod is a short documentary film that touches on the issues of climate change and its effects on marine life and the ecosystem in Gloucester, New England. The film explores the common fishing practices of the inhabitants of the Gulf of Maine, where they depend on codfish for their livelihoods, but where a decline in the fish stocks has disrupted their regular activities and as it appears, for a long way time to come. The natives regard the Sacred Codfish with reverence and condemn the government's lack of effort in preserving the Sacred Codfish species, which have been beneficial to the New England inhabitants since time immemorial. The government's fault arise from its reluctance to protect the fish from overfishing practices in the past, which has over the centuries led to the disappearance of over 90 percent of the original fish population. The pollution of the gulf also has also contributed to the situation over the years. The immediate impact of these is seen in the loss of jobs by the native inhabitants who had grown up fishing, and who are now forced to live off menial jobs in the mainland cities or find other alternative means to meet their daily needs. In addition, the stringent regulations and the constant harassment of these fishermen by environmental and state agencies and other regulatory bodies has driven a once bustling fishing industry to virtual non-existence and ultimately led to its collapse. The paper looked at some of the causes for the destruction of this once bustling industry as well as the efforts that could be applied to deal with it, also applying the concepts of Biotic interactions as per Eric Post's insights of the situation.

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The native inhabitants of The Gulf of Maine in New England have depended on fishing as their main economic Activity for more than four centuries. The fishing village that began as a fish market during the seventeenth century went on to grow to a city bustling with various different economic activities supported at its core by the Sacred Codfish. Churches, schools, shopping centers, and various other economic activities grew in the Gulf due to the profits that were being reaped from Cod fishing. However, all these came to a collapse when the Cod populations started to rapidly dwindle and soon forced the government to limit and control the fishing activities. Over time, fishing in the Gulf had to be severely limited due to the continued decline of its fish populations. As a result, entire populations were forced to abandon the economic activities that had been their backbone for centuries and adapt to other means of survival. The problems with the dwindling Cod populations was caused by many factors other than overfishing.

The government has over the years tried to revive it so as to allow the fishing industry to grow again, with limited success. After initial success, the government researchers found that the decline in these populations still continued and even on a larger scale than before. Scientific research in the Gulf has pointed to the effects of global warming as the culprit responsible for these trends. The research found that the Gulf of Maine is actually much more affected by global warming than the average effect on other parts of the US. The warming ocean temperatures made it hard for the Codfish to breed as they do better in cooler waters. Furthermore, phytoplankton which is the main food for the fish does poorly on warm waters, further worsening the situation. With the existing Cod populations unable to multiply adequately, continued fishing is bound to worsen the condition further. This is better explained by Post (2013), pointing out that rapid environmental change present adverse challenges to some species, the, for example, compromising their ability to survive and reproduce in the new environment. The immediate impact as seen in our case is the continued dwindling of the fish populations with every year, as well as the reduction of phytoplankton available for the fish in the waters. This is also worsened by the recent evidence that the rate of change has drastically increased over the past twenty-five years as compared to what it was 150 years ago (Post, 2013). This collaborates in the New England and Gloucester Harbor researches, which indicate that the rapid decline in the populations of Codfish rapidly increased reaching unsustainable levels beginning in the past quarter-century. The effects of these have forced the government to severely regulate fishing activities in this once booming fishing market. The latest research placed the fish population at 3% of their original abundance, which no doubt is a greatly worrying truth.

The government regulation of fishing trade over the Gulf of Maine, which was the main economic backbone of Gloucester Harbor has inevitably brought friction between the public and the local government. With the government offering no alternative means of sustaining the city's populations economically, this situation was largely foreseeable. The citizens mostly feel like the regulations are unfair and bear no merit for them, viewing the government intervention as being unfairly orchestrated. However, others concur with the government efforts to preserve the dwindling stocks with the hopes that they would one day be revived enough to benefit the future generations. Such kind of support for the government's efforts would be beneficial in bringing back the economy of the city. However, the key to gaining public support for the cause is educating the masses on the importance of their contribution and perseverance as well as giving them accurate and reliable information regarding the true state of the condition. Making the Gloucester residents understand their role and the importance of their contribution towards improving the existing situation and finding a collective solution and ways of working around and managing it. The problem with the Gloucester case is that there are conflicting reports of the amount of fish available in the Gulf of Maine among the commercial parties, recreational parties, and the researchers. However, making the masses aware of the cause of the problem in the first place, including the lack of regulations that allowed for overfishing and climate change could help encourage them to co-operate with the government's efforts.

With the cod populations dwindling in the Gulf of Maine, the local populations have to adapt to new ways of living and sustaining their economy. However, the local inhabitants have to be educated and notified of their roles and responsibilities in maintaining the ecosystem and the importance of working with the government to ensure that the situation is adequately managed. Even as the government takes measures and impose fishing regulations on the fishermen, they are the largest responsibility in ensuring that they engage the masses and work together to recover the fish populations to sustainable levels and to levels that can allow for a resumption of the fishing activities as were in the past, but in a more sustainable level, just as was the case in Canada. The authorities also should assist the fishermen who have lost their sources of livelihoods to find alternative means of survival without engaging in illegal fishing activities in the area. The authorities should also work on new ways of reducing the impacts of climate change and global warming on the ecosystem of the Gulf of Maine and restore back the flora that would quicken the recovery of the Codfish in its waters as quickly as possible. Of utter importance nonetheless is involving its local people in discovering this change and prevent an occurrence of a similar situation in the future.


Post, E. S. (2013). Ecology of climate change: The importance of biotic interactions.

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