90% of the world’s large fish have been wiped out by fishing. - Ransom Myers
The long-awaited Seaspiracy documentary was released on Netflix on March 24 and has been making waves across the internet. This 90-minute exposé is created by the same team who made the Cowspiracy documentary and is directed by the British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi and his assistant director/wife Lucy.
The documentary was created to showcase the negative impacts of commercial fishing on all aspects of marine life, as well as its devastating effects on the climate. It shines a light on the almost irreversible practices that are destroying the earth’s ecosystems.
Although some people are slightly disappointed that the producers missed the “ConspiraSEA” pun, this documentary is an essential watch for every person on our planet. Here are the key things from Seaspiracy that we all need to learn, remember and share.
The Plastic Straw Ban Is A Red Herring
In 2015 marine biologist Christine Figgner filmed her team removing a plastic straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose, this video went viral and sparked the plastic straw bans across the world. Consumers are regularly encouraged to ditch plastic straws and switch to a metal, silicone, or bamboo alternative.
Although reducing your own plastic usage is an essential part of the environmental movement, plastic straws only make up 0.03% (1) of plastic entering the ocean, in actuality fishing gear makes up roughly 50% of the infamous ocean “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
Now, we still encourage you to ditch your single-use plastics but eating a fish with bamboo cutlery and a stainless steel straw ends up being an oxymoron!
Oil Spills Aren’t As Bad As Commercial Fishing
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened in April 2010 when an oil drilling rig exploded and sank, resulting in the largest spill of oil in the history of marine drilling operations. (2)
The documentary shines a surprising light on the oil spill, around 30 minutes in, explaining that the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico actually destroys more animals in a single day than the oil spill did in 3 months. (3)
It then goes onto explain that due to the fact that large areas were closed to fishing due to the possibility of being tainted by oil, marine life actually benefited because it got a respite from fishing.
The Fishing Industry Has Its Own Form Of Propaganda
The director, Ali Tabrizi, says it’s hard to imagine a handful of fishermen on a little boat can cause all this damage to our oceans and the environment, but this is because brands have created an image of the fishing industry, deeply implanted in our minds from childhood, where we imagine a little red boat driven by a Captain BirdsEye character.
Instead, the fishing boats are actually a “death machine”, a highly effective technological machine that has been designed to catch as many fish as possible. These boats are typically 24-27 metres (80-90 feet), twice as long as a double-decker bus. Their purpose is to mop up as many animals as possible to support our growing demands.
Commercial Fishing Is Killing Our Coral Reefs
With 90% (4) of coral reefs expected to die by the year 2050, the mainstream narrative promotes that this is caused by climate change, but fish are actually vital to keep corals alive.
This is because the coral feed on the fish’s excrement (their poop), but when fishermen come and catch the fish, the coral lose their main food source. Seaspiracy says fishing has become the major threat to corals around the world, especially in the Caribbean, where 90% of the large fish that live there have disappeared over the last 30 years.
Soon, There May No Longer Be Any Fish To Catch
Dr. Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, oceanographer and self-claimed explorer, tells us that if we keep taking the fish at the level we are today, then by the middle of the 21st century, there will be no wild fish left for commercial fishing.
The documentary goes on to explain that a typical fishing boat on the North Sea in the 1830s (a boat that probably looked a bit more like the CaptainBirdsEye image we have in our minds) would be able to catch 1 to 2 tons of halibut every day. But now, an entire fishing fleet there only catches 1-2 tons of halibut every year, a massive drop in the amount of fish in the area.
We Are Causing The Global Fishing Population To Decline
The commercial fishing industry catches 2.7 trillion fish every year, or up to 5 million every minute. (5) In some cases, fish species are plummeting to near extinction, with the population of Halibut and Haddock decreasing by 99% since the 1970s, Bluefin Tuna by 97%, and Cod by 86%.
A study from one of the world’s leading fishery experts says that if current fishing trends continue, we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048. (6)
The Ocean Is A Carbon Sink
Seaspiracy goes on to discuss how interconnected marine life is and its essential role in maintaining not only the chemistry of the ocean but also our planet's atmosphere.
The power of the marine animals moving up and down as they swim through the water has the same 'mixing power' of all the wind, waves, tides, and currents in the sea combined. This has a huge impact on the physics, chemistry, and biology of the seas.
This mixing power, or churning of the sea, is thought to be the way the oceans help absorb heat from the atmosphere because as the animals swim through the ocean, it creates a powerful down-welling of the warmer surface waters to mix with the colder waters below. More research needs to be done, but the decimation of marine life may be interfering with this process and contributing to warmer sea temperatures.
The ocean life is also crucial for holding onto carbon and preventing it from being released into our atmosphere. They sequester carbon when they sink to the bottom of the ocean, making the ocean the biggest carbon sink on our planet. The founder of Shea Shepherd says the first thing you need to do to address climate change is to protect the ocean and the solution? He says to leave it alone.
Per acre, the marine plants store up to 20x more carbon than forests on land, and 93% of all the world’s CO2 is stored in the oceans with the help of marine vegetation, algae and coral. If we lose just 1% of this ecosystem, it is the equivalent of releasing the emissions of 97 million cars. (7)
We Are Deforesting Our Oceans
Richard Oppenlander, the author of Food Choice and Sustainability, says we are essentially deforesting our oceans by not only removing the fish, but our methods of removal are devastating to the habitat and ecosystems of the ocean. Even more so with our oceans because they’re out of sight and out of mind.
Ali Tabrizi goes on to explain that trawling is the most destructive form of fishing - this is where a net is attached to the back of a boat and they collect fish as it moves across the ocean. The largest trawl sets are so big that they could swallow whole cathedrals or up to 13 jumbo jet planes.
These nets also drag a heavyweight at the bottom, scarring the seafloor, that was once abundant with life, leaving nothing but a barren wasteland behind. This is just like bulldozing a pristine Amazonian rain forest, except much worse. Every year approximately 25 million acres of forest are lost, however, bottom trawling wipes out an estimated 3.9 billion acres every year.
Protected Areas Of The Oceans Aren’t Protected
Many researchers feel that around 30% of our oceans should be protected, but in reality, we’re at 5% of our oceans being protected. But that 5% is highly misleading because 90% of the protected areas still allow fishing, so in reality, the documentary explains, less than 1% of our oceans are being regulated and protected.
Can Fish Be Sustainable?
Seaspiracy then explores can sustainable seafood exist. The first problem is that we can’t know whether fish are caught ‘illegally’ or ‘sustainably’. The Sea Shepherd captain believes sustainable fishing can’t exist because there aren’t enough fish to do so.
They compare eating salmon vs a bluefin tuna, going on to say that is essentially like thinking shooting a polar bear is more sustainable than shooting a panda, but in reality, neither one is sustainable or right to do so.
Government observers given the task of monitoring fishing activity on ships to assess sustainability have been murdered at sea and thrown overboard. In Papua New Guinea, 18 fishery observers have gone missing in the space of just five years. It doesn’t help that the government is subsidising the fish industry, with more money going out than the value of fish coming back in.
But what about sustainable fish farms, if the fish are bred to be caught it won’t deplete the ocean’s reserves, right? Well… no. It was found that to produce 1kg of salmon, you need 1.2kg of feed, the feed is heavily processed and made from fish meal and fish oil, which requires a massive amount of fish to produce. You need more fish going into the farmer’s feed, then there is coming out. This doesn’t even begin to cover the disease and pollution of these factory farms.
The Solution: Stop Eating Fish
As it seems pretty impossible to sustainably farm fish, the solution the documentary presents is to stop eating fish, which we strongly agree with.
Ali Tabrizi talks to Dr. Michael Greger, a physician, asking what nutrients you’re going to miss out on by not eating seafood. Dr Greger goes on to explain you actually benefit more from not eating fish, due to the toxic heavy metals like mercury, dioxins and PCBs that you’re ingesting through fish. The aquatic food chain is the most concentrated source of industrial pollutants
But, We Need Fish To Get Essential Omegas!
Fish don’t make the Omega-3s themselves. Instead, they obtain it from eating krill who have eaten a special species of micro-algae that has evolved to create their own Omegas
This means that the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids for those on is an algae oil supplement. By going straight to the source the fish use, we can create a healthy, vegan Omega-3 fatty acids supplement with minimal environmental impact. One study even found algae oil was better than krill at raising EPA levels. (9)
Seaspiracy is streaming on Netflix now, or check out their Instagram page. Seaspiracy is also running a Change.org petition to protect 30% of our oceans by 2030 from industrial fishing which you can find here.
Protect your future health by getting your Omega-3s - straight from the source. If you’re looking to begin taking an Omega-3 supplement, then check out Omvits, a 100% plant-based, ocean-friendly, and sustainable multivitamin and mineral creator.
(1) Jean Jambeck, Journal of Science. Denise Hardesty & Chris Wilcox. (2) https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/deepwater-horizon-bp-gulf-mexico-oil-spill (3) Roberts. C. 2013 Ocean of Life (4) https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/environment-90-percent-coral-reefs-die-2050-climate-change-bleaching-pollution-a7626911.html (5) Fishcount.org.uk & United Nations 2012 FAQ. (6) https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/science/03fish.html (7) The Future Of Blue Carbon Science, Dr. Peter Macreadie (8) University of British Columbia, Marine Protection Targets. (9) https://www.nutraceuticalbusinessreview.com/technical/article_page/Rapid_EPA_uptake_with_algal_oil/99582
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