“300 years ago, before the arrival of industrial fishing, the ocean was full of life … and now, it’s like a shadow of itself,” says the narrator at the beginning of the trailer for CAUGHT — a new documentary by Age of Union, which reveals the critical impacts of dangerous fishing methods and dolphin bycatch off the coast of France.

The film offers a raw, unfiltered look at boots-on-the-ground activism by the M/Y Age of Union Sea Shepherd crew and pinpoints the potential catastrophic ripple effects of overfishing, jeopardizing sustainability for all life on earth in the foreseeable future.

On July 27, the Faculty of Environment hosted a special screening of the documentary CAUGHT, to continue shedding light on this critical issue and discuss solutions that would allow us to protect and restore critically threatened oceans before it’s too late.

“The screening was an opportunity to bring people from across our diverse communities together to explore the shocking consequences of overfishing,” says Dr. Sarah Burch, professor in the Faculty of Environment and executive director of the Waterloo Climate Institute. “We must know the depth of this issue so that we can work together to address it.”
Outside the Eglinton Grand Theatre. Marquee letters read U of Waterloo features CAUGHT July 27 2023.
Part of the 2022 Wildscreen Festival's official selection, the screening was followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Burch with film contributors Dax Dasilva, founder of Age of Union, and Will Allen, cinematographer and photographer, who responded to questions about combating climate change and influencing a societal cultural shift towards sustainability.

“People are land locked and the ocean is out of sight and out of mind. We want to bring people to the ocean to be aware of the impact,” said Allen.

Dasilva and Allen encouraged audience members to reflect on their consumption habits, where they suggested choosing more plant-based alternatives while recognizing that the major changes come from government action, driven by public demand.
“All individual actions taken are like water droplets forming a puddle,” said Allen. "With enough droplets, we can create a tidal wave of change."
For Allen and Dasilva, working on meaningful projects and documentaries, like CAUGHT, is all about exposing the world to some of the biggest challenges our planet and humanity face today. “If people care, then governments will care. Sadly, dolphins don’t get to vote,” said Dasilva.
Although the film shares the urgent need for policy changes and a shift in consumer behavior, Dasilva stressed that “we don’t only need to see losses, we can see wins.
Since the film’s release, the French court has ordered the government to review and change laws regarding commercial fishing practices a very encouraging step in the right direction.

“The only thing that really clenches the deal on the future being dark is us deciding that’s true," said Burch, as she wrapped up the evening encouraging folks to not give into apathy.

To conclude the evening, Bruce Frayne, the dean of the Faculty of Environment and emcee for the event, challenged our community to continue to be change makers and focus on the future we want. “What you do today in the present controls the future. Our community has benefited from experiencing rich education, research, and Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture, we, together can make change.”

Bruce Frayne, dean of Environment, addressing the attendees at the CAUGHT screening.

After the screening, attendees were eager to discuss the film with each other, Age of Union film contributors and Waterloo faculty members. For many alumni attendees, this was their first Waterloo community event. For others, it was a welcome reminder to re-engage with the institution they love. 

Advancing sustainable futures for the world is a complex problem. Weighing climate change and sustainability with societal needs and inequities is no simple task. However, as part of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, Waterloo strives to be a leader in sustainability education and research. We build on this strength by partnering with organizations like Age of Union to help drive society towards a sustainable future.