15 April 2021

Since the documentary Seaspiracy came out last month, it’s become one of the most-watched films on Netflix, and for good reason. The director, Ali Tabrizi, set out to make a film about how incredible our oceans are and ended up uncovering a sinister network of large-scale crime and destruction, supported by governments, corporation and NGOs, all under the guise of providing fish to feed the world.

These are ten key points we took away from the film:

  1. The people who control some of the larger commercial fishing vessels are international criminals with little regard for anything or anyone that may get in the way of them profiting from their activities.
  2. Slavery is endemic on such fishing vessels, particularly in Thailand. Workers often ‘go missing’ at sea, as do government officials tasked with checking fishing practices and conditions on board.
  3. The so-called Somali ‘pirates’ are simply honest folk trying to feed themselves from the sea, as they have done for generations. Having been forced from the sea, they’ve turned inland for their food sources, thus releasing diseases such as Ebola.
  4. Particularly relevant to our part of the world, Scottish salmon farming is far from healthy and sustainable. There is a salmon farm close to our home and it pains us to know that fish are being kept in cages as restrictive and unhygienic as those on industrial pig, dairy and chicken farms.
  5. For every fish kept in fish farms, many more wild fish are killed to provide their foodstuff. And in Florida, mangrove forests, which protect the coastline from adverse weather conditions, have been cut down to erect prawn and shrimp farms. Similar to land-based industrial farming, poorer people are being disproportionately affected by the production of ‘quality’ food for the wealthier.
  6. Some of the environmental organisations (not to mention the media) are sponsored by some of the large corporations, meaning their communications strategies are heavily biased. For many years they have been shifting the blame to the public, focusing in particular on consumer waste such as plastic straws, when the majority of plastic pollution actually consists of fishing gear (discarded fishing nets being the most deadly for ocean life). Using plastic straws as the scapegoat is like trying to convince us the Amazon rainforest could be saved if only we would stop using toothpicks.
  7. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 actually provided a respite for ocean life, since commercial fishing vessels were prohibited from entering the area. The fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico kills more animals in one day than the oil spill did in three months.
  8. Products designated as dolphin-safe, and labelled as such, are not dolphin-safe at all. In fact, in some waters, dolphins are purposely (and brutally) slaughtered in the name of ‘pest control’, since they are viewed as competition for the reducing numbers of fish available as a result of human overfishing. In a further twist to the tale, this is actually a lie which acts as a cover for the much more profitable tuna industry.
  9. Many fish and other marine species are now in serious danger of extinction. Since 1970 some populations have plummeted by up to 99%, with seabird populations seriously declining as a result. Rather than acting to prevent this trend, governments are using taxpayers’ money to subsidise the trade which is causing this.
  10. Climate change has been accused of destroying the world’s coral reefs, when mass-scale commercial fishing is more likely the cause. Coral depends on marine life for its survival.

This is a powerful documentary and a must-watch for anyone who cares about our oceans and our planet. Thank you, Ali Tabrizi, for having the courage to make this film and put it out there.

What steps can you take now?

  • Watch the film and encourage your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, etc. to watch it too.
  • Refuse to buy industrially caught or farmed fish or shellfish, or anything containing fish derivatives.
  • Ask your local MP what the allegations in the documentary mean for the fishing industry in your area.

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