THE DAMNED OF THE SEA

Belgium, Morocco 2008 | 71 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU
Q&A with: Jawad Rhalib

For­mer­ly known as Mogador, Essaouira was the first sar­dine fish­ing port in the world. Today the fish have left its waters. Thou­sands of small Moroc­can fish­er­men from Essaouira, Safi, and Agadir have been forced to make their way fur­ther south to Dakhla, where the West­ern Sahara meets the Atlantic, in hopes of catch­ing more fish. But it’s a strug­gle there as well: All around, trawlers from for­eign coun­tries drag the waters with huge nets, con­tribut­ing to the destruc­tion of an entire ecosys­tem. Forced to com­pete with these mas­sive fish­ing boats, the local fish­er­man often return home with noth­ing.

Jawad Rhalib strives to present both sides of the story. The direc­tor shows the con­se­quences of the meager catch on those who call Dakhla home: dwin­dling prof­its among local busi­ness owners and increas­ing pover­ty in gen­er­al. Yet THE DAMNED OF THE SEA also climbs aboard a Swedish fish­ing boat, illus­trat­ing how the cap­tain and his crew must bring in high-yield catch­es if they wish to com­pete in the price wars of the Euro­pean fish­ing indus­try.