The Fifth Estate Fishing for Fun and Death

The Fifth Estate Fishing for Fun and Death

Warner Troyer explores the presence of mercury in some of Northern Ontario's lakes and rivers. In Minamata, Japan in 1956 a new disease was discovered and the cause was mercury poisoning from ingested fish. The disease came to be known as Minamata disease. At that time the Ontario government found it also existed in the Wabigoon River and banned commercial fishing in the area. But since then the fishing tourism industry still exists and the local people continue to eat the fish. Troyer interviews a native fishing tour operator, Matthew Beaver, on the Grassy Narrows reserve who is afraid of the disease but also of losing his job. George and Molly Hohnstein, owners of the Grassy Lodge, reveal their belief that the natives are to blame if they are being poisoned. Troyer uncovers through his investigation that higher than safe mercury levels – as high as in Minamata – were found in the Grassy Narrows and White Dog fishing area. Troyer brings the investigation to Japan when Minamata disease patients invite the residents of Grassy Narrows and White Dog to see the effects of the disease in person. Mercury poisoning specialists from Japan conduct more tests on people in the Ontario region and confirm they show symptoms of the disease. Troyer uncovers that an operator error resulted in a massive spillage of mercury into the river. Warning: contains disturbing scenes.

  • 1975
  • 00:27:42
  • 15-17
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