Netflix’s latest documentary Seaspiracy left us all shocked and confused. Most people knew things weren’t going well for the oceans, but nobody had foreseen how bad it actually is. Spoiler alert: we have a big problem.
Many themes involving the oceans are explored, and as the documentary continues, the problems worsen. It starts with the importance of all sea life and how we are destroying it. Not in the very least because of our overuse of plastic straws.
Like in Cowspiracy, which Kip Anderson also produced, the absolute biggest threat is stumbled on by accident. This is because the biggest problem is the least discussed, and everyone would like to keep it that way. Hence, the documentary’s name: it all feels like a real conspiracy theory. The fishing industry, the so-called ‘sea-loving industry’ is actually causing massive destruction. This not only for the oceans but also for all animals that live, in and out of the oceans. Massive slaughters happen in our seas, and only up until now we never realized all the problems it caused.
Here are some of the biggest threats to our ocean:
Plastic in our oceans is by far the most well-known problem, and even though it might not be the biggest problem, it will always stay relevant. It is estimated that if we continue to dump plastic in the seas, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Plastic pollutes our oceans and kills marine life and coral reefs.
“There is a garbage truckload of plastic dumped every minute into the ocean and over 150 billion tonnes of microplastics are already there – they [the microplastics] now outnumber the stars in the Milky Way.” – Co-director Tabrizi
We thought that plastic straws and bags were forming the biggest problem, but that appears to be totally wrong. Of all garbage in the sea, the waste of the fishing industry makes up 46% of it. Every year, 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets, lines, and traps used in commercial fishing are discarded into the oceans. This is the equivalent of 55,000 double-decker buses! The plastic waste problem is huge. The garbage patch in the Great Pacific is already 1.6 million square kilometers and keeps growing every single day.
In the documentary, it is explained that bycatch is a bigger issue than we think. What exactly is bycatch ? Most of the fish that we eat are caught in large fishing nets. They are thrown into the ocean, and all sea animals swimming by are caught in them. It doesn’t have a filter, so all the animals swimming in-between the schools of fish are caught too. These can be turtles, small whales, dolphins, or seabirds.
It has never been a secret that bycatch existed. We just never realized how big the numbers were. Each year, around 40% of the catch worldwide is unintentionally caught as bycatch. This means that 30 million tonnes of fish get killed for no reason.
Apparently, we should eat fish that have ‘sustainable’ labels like an MSC certification or the Dolphin Safe label. However, this documentary puts the whole concept of sustainable fish into question. 90% of the fish population has disappeared because of the fishing industry. Furthermore, commercial fishing is one of the biggest threats to whales and dolphins. 300,000 of them are killed each year as bycatch.
A member of Sea Shepherd said that one boat killed 45 dolphins to catch only 8 tuna. Shockingly, this boat belonged to The Earth Island Institute and sold its tuna as being “dolphin-safe”. The institute says that they have observers on board but that they are often bribed. That way, it is quite impossible to know if the tuna caught was truly dolphin-safe.
The bottom line that the documentary draws is that sustainable fishing doesn’t exist. By definition, commercial fishing is an unsustainable practice. So all those labels give out empty promises that usually are incorrect as well.
Trawling and deforestation
Another huge problem that commercial fishing brings is trawling. Trawling is a fishing practice where a net is pulled behind a fishing boat. It’s the most destructive form of fishing, as it leaves nothing behind and basically is seafloor deforestation. The damage that it causes is gigantic: each year 3.9 billion acres of the seafloor are cleared. This is the equivalent of 4316 football fields being cleared every single minute! Forest deforestation in comparison is only 25 million acres per year. These numbers are huge, yet we barely realize it, because we can’t see it, and rarely anybody has mentioned the problem before.
Conclusion: most of the problems within our oceans lead back to this one problem, which is by far the biggest. It is also the one that has been kept a secret for so long, and that was silenced by governments, companies, and environmental groups. It is a commercial fishing problem.
The one and only solution the documentary presents is to stop eating fish. Or at least a little less. As seen in the documentary, there are so many problems with commercial fishing, ranging from bycatch to plastic pollution and destroying the seafloor. The best thing we can do as consumers is to eat fewer fish. That way, we stop supporting the commercial fishing trade, and it might lead to an actual, worldwide habitual change. We need to wake up now and see the urgency of the problem. Only then we can truly do something about it.
Join its movement now at the website of Seaspiracy.
Liked Seaspiracy: What We Learned? Also read, Evolution of Vegan Lifestyle.