ILLEGAL Catch: Documentary covering the Chinese mafia's trade in fish swim bladders, Mexican fishermen pressed for criminal activity, fearless activists, scared cops and the latest individuals of a rare whale.

Philosopher. Permanent literary critic in MODERN TIMES. Translator.
Published: 2020-01-30
Sea of ​​Shadows

Richard Ladkani (United States)

On a preview of Sea of ​​Shadows at Soho House in West Hollywood, we meet crew from the ship "Sea Shepherd" along with other characters from the documentary, including investigators Andrea Crosta and former CIA and FBI officer Mark Davis. They all fight against illegal trapping. Crosta and Davis's organization, Earth League International (formerly Elephant Action League), has previously partnered with director Richard Ladkani in the Oscar-nominated film The Ivory Game (2016).

Crosta's goal is to hunt and break up the international criminal networks that engage in illicit trafficking - the fourth largest form of illegal trafficking today. "We have concentrated on snipers and illegal trappers on the one hand and the buyers on the other side for too long," he says in the introduction. "The people behind these illegal networks don't care about any of the parts: They don't care about confiscations, arrests or ineffective awareness campaigns. Their business is running smoothly and no one is trying to get hold of them. "

The first scene in Sea of ​​Shadows takes place at night, at sea, in a wild boat hunt in which armed poachers, ready to attack, try to shake off the environmentalists. Later we see the fishermen shooting at the activists' drones, and we lose the image - and, like them, are left to the night dark and a black screen.

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Global war

The Sea of ​​Corte, which activists are trying to protect, lies on the Mexican Pacific coast. The French documentary filmmaker and underwater pioneer, Jacques Cousteau, called the ocean area "the world's aquarium". Like other precious areas of the planet, this ocean area - with its dolphins, whale sharks and hundreds of fish species - is on the verge of destruction and can face a biological collapse in a few years. The main problem is not overfishing, but the activity of global criminal networks.

The totoaba fish swim bladders are sold for astronomical sums in China - up to 400
crowns per piece, since traditional Chinese medicine attributes a variety of beneficial properties to the blisters.

Sponsored by intermediaries with connections abroad, local fishermen buy large-mesh nets that are perfectly suited to catching totoaba fish, the "cocaine of the sea". ...

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