“The resources of the Atlantic Ocean are vast”, explains narrator Brendan Gleeson at the start of director Risteard O’Domhnaill’s documentary Atlantic, and it has “always provided for the people living along its shores”. However this may not always be the case, the film warns, as these resources are in danger of disappearing due to the seemingly insatiable quest for corporate profit.
The film tells its story by way of three locations bordering the Atlantic – Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland, Canada – each with their own distinct culture and politics and each with a history of living off of the bountiful resources of the ocean. Unfortunately in recent years each has also faced very similar problems.
After years of over fishing, depleted stock has led to government imposed restrictions for local fishermen which subsequently caused the loss of many jobs and even whole communities. Augmenting the problem is the fact that governments have allotted fishing quotas to other countries and territories making it illegal for local fisherman to fish their own waters while foreign companies fish in bulk with little oversight. In recent years there has also been increasing pressure to mine the depths of the ocean for untapped oil and natural gas supplies which itself poses serious environmental and economic risks.
Atlantic is at once moving and disturbing in its portrayal of corporate greed and government corruption, as well as the adversity facing individuals and communities fighting to save their jobs, their homes and their waters. It is also a visual wonder, complete with sweeping aerial shots of coastal vistas and glorious high definition underwater photography which presents the great and powerful beauty of the ocean and its many natural resources – resources which if we are not more careful may someday be gone for good.