Director David Abel, a Boston Globe reporter and former adjunct faculty member in Emerson’s Journalism department, shares insight with viewers alongside the event’s moderator, Nejem Raheem, environment economist and interim chair of the Marketing Communication Department. Photo/Molly Loughman
By Molly Loughman
Emersonians and the general public got a glimpse of the gritty, ruthless, and tense lives of American and Canadian fishermen feuding over the lobster-rich 277 square miles of sea known as the “Gray Zone,” an area claimed by both the United States and Canada.
Their entryway into the Gray Zone was the 2018 documentary Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds, by David Abel and produced by Andy Laub ’09. The School of Communication co-sponsored a February 7 screening of the documentary as part of Emerson’s Bright Lights Film Series.
“As a filmmaker, my hope is to make films that give a sense that climate change is affecting people here and now. This issue is one that is stoking a border conflict between two countries that are as much alike as any two bordering countries on the planet, and yet it’s causing conflict,” said director Abel, a Boston Globe reporter and former adjunct faculty member in Emerson’s Journalism department. Abel co-produced the film with Laub, his former journalism student. He was on hand after the screening to discuss his movie and answer questions from the audience.
“It’s so great to be here at Emerson. For me in many ways, this is a homecoming. This film really wouldn’t be possible tonight without Emerson College,” Abel said.
The feature-length film, which won the 2018 award for Best New England Film at the Mystic Film Festival, and was runner-up for the Grand Prize for Best Feature Film at the 2018 International Maritime Film Festival, attracted a good crowd to the Bright Family Screening Room. Besides the SOC, the screening was co-sponsored by the Department of Visual and Media Arts and the Globe Docs Film Festival.
Moderating the Q&A with Abel after the screening was Marketing Communication professor and environmental economist Nejem Raheem, who questioned the outcome of the intensifying climate-fueled conflict over the increasingly lucrative stretch of the Atlantic Ocean, which both countries have claimed since the Revolutionary War.
These days, the Gray Zone, which was traditionally fished by U.S. lobstermen, has also attracted Canadian fishermen, who have asserted their sovereignty as the Gulf of Maine warms faster than nearly any other body of water on the planet. This warming has caused the area’s previously modest lobster population to surge, leaving Canadians and Americans warring to claim the bounty in the Gray Zone.
“If we are to avoid the most catastrophic outcomes with massive sea level rise and more powerful storms and more intense rains, we need to get off our addiction to fossil fuels soon,” Abel said. “And that means within the next 10 to 20 years,” he concluded.