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Mindblowing Documentary: Seaspiracy

The Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, released in March, is a personal investigation into the negative impacts of overfishing on our precious ocean. Directed by Ali Tabrizi, this documentary broke into Netflix’s top 10 trending shows and movies. While Seaspiracy has been faced with some backlash, there is a lot of truth to the documentary. The following are some eye-opening lessons learned from Seaspiracy.

Image is courtesy of Netflix.

1. Bycatch Is a Huge Issue

Bycatch is an unsustainable capture of species. According to NOAA Fisheries, it involves catching and discarding animals that fishermen do not want or that cannot be sold, including fish and other sea animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, whales, or other protected species. Some discarded species will die due to a lack of oxygen, which can disrupt the ecosystem and the food chain due to overfishing.

2. Fish Farms May Not Be the Best Method

Fish farms have been thought more eco-friendly than wild fishing. It was conducted to increase food security due to the high consumption and demand for seafood, especially salmon. Seaspiracy mentions that salmon would be grey if it wasn’t fed by chemicals that give its pink colour. Some chemicals are called astaxanthin and carotenoids, as stated by LadBible. Astaxanthin also helps with the immune system and keeps salmon healthy. Another downside of fish farming is the diseases suffered by fishes. Animal Ethics explains that the diseases can be caused by viruses, fungus, or bacteria that irritate their skin or cause other infections. Since they are grouped in a small environment, conditions can be easily spread and cause mass death.

Image is courtesy of Modern Farmer.

3. Fishnets are a Huge Source of Plastic Pollution

We are always told that single-use plastics should be reduced significantly for our planet. Therefore, we reduce single-use plastic products such as straws, bottles, and cutlery. In fact, Seaspiracy shows that fishing nets are often neglected. A Nature study shows that 46% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is discarded fishing nets. Fishing nets can trap and tangle sea animals which are also known as “ghost fishing”.

Image is courtesy of Vegan Food and Living.

4. Human Slavery Should be Addressed More

Human trafficking is an urgent global issue that should be addressed. The Environmental Justice Foundation estimates that 35.8 million women, men, and children are victims. Seaspiracy portrays the horrifying parts of slave labour as it mentions workers are abused, threatened, and murdered with extreme violence. Corruption and bribing make this issue very difficult to solve. Reflecting on it, when we are enjoying the convenience of frozen shrimps, millions of people are suffering because of our immense consumption and needs.

5. Humans Kill Millions of Sharks a Year

Seaspiracy mentions that sharks kill 12 humans a year, but humans kill 11,000 to 30,000 sharks per hour. This is due to the consumption of shark fin soups, especially in Asia. Sharks are keystone species in the ocean which means they are crucial to maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Removing sharks will lead to a significant imbalance of predators and prey, which will shift the equilibrium. We can see a promising decline in shark fin soup consumption in China in recent years, but we should ban all shark fin soups globally. Ending this is hard due to the incredible economic benefits, but this is essential to prevent shark extinction.

Image is courtesy of Straight.

6. Dolphin Safe Tuna May be False

The dolphin population has drastically dropped since 1980, targeting the tuna industry. One of the most common methods is through bycatch. It is estimated by Endangered Species Research that 4.1 million cetaceans were caught between 1950 and 2015. Dolphin safe label means that tuna is caught without deliberately killing dolphins. It is usually used for canned tuna. However, as Seaspiracy mentions, there are no government observers to control tuna vessels. It is still possible that a large number of dolphins are slaughtered while consuming tuna with a dolphin-safe label. Although the number of dolphin deaths has significantly declined, we still need proper and sustainable tuna fishing methods to avoid more casualties.

Image is courtesy of National Geographic.

What Should We Do?

Seeing all the astonishing facts featured by Seaspiracy, we seriously need to reconsider our seafood consumption. Many animals, such as tuna, salmon, sharks, cod, etc., are overfished. Ali and other professionals in Seaspiracy highly recommend the audience to reduce or not consume seafood to restore the population. Is it possible to consume fish ethically and sustainably? In Seaspiracy, Ali doesn’t think so. Some experts believe that it all comes down to the government to succeed in sustainable fishing, which involves the political aspect. However, this documentary does not put a significant focus on that.

This thought-provoking documentary raises the awareness of the importance of where the food comes from. Fish is a fantastic source of protein and omega 3, which are essential for our body. Ali said, “If dolphins and whales die, the ocean dies. If the ocean dies, so do we.” This film also triggers a lot of people to go plant-based. However, is it the only solution? The primary purpose of this article is not to persuade you to eliminate fish from your diet. It’s to address the significance of sustainable fishing and the need to cooperate with the government and the community.

Article Author: Michelle Lam

Article Editors: Valerie Shirobokov, Stephanie Sahadeo