Seaspiracy makes some truly shocking claims about the fishing industry (Image: ©2021 Netflix, Inc.)
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Netflix documentary Seaspiracy reveals shocking footage and teaches us a lot about the sea life we didn’t know.
It’s another insightful Netflix documentary that really opens your eyes to what’s going on around us, making you think twice about what we’re consuming and the global impact it has on the world.
The documentary follows a filmmaker trying to uncover the truth of the extreme killing of whales, dolphins and fish all whilst finding the truth behind "sustainable" foods.
The film discovers the great impact and tragedy this involves, and looks at the overwhelming plastic materials that are found on beaches, seas and in whales' stomachs.
It reveals a whole other meaning of fishing and sea life. With eye opening facts and footage throughout, it’s not an easy watch but certainly one we won’t forget.
1. Whale killing is still happening
The large scale killing of whales is still taking place in multiple countries around the world.
Seaspiracy explains that whales, dolphins and sharks are still being slaughtered
(Image: Sea Shepherd)
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This involves fishermen herding up whales and dolphins to be slaughtered in large numbers. Sharks are killed just for their fins for the traditional shark fin soup – which is claimed to have no nutritional value and no significant taste either.
The death of sharks also hugely affects the sea life food chain.
Bans were put in globally to stop the killing of whales but they have since been revoked in some countries, and others are fishing illegally.
2. Plastic straws aren’t just the problem
The documentary reveals that household plastics such as straws, bottles and bags only play a small minority of the plastic problem, with straws only causing 0.03% of plastic waste in the ocean.
Revealing that fishing nets and waste are regularly dumped into the sea causing the real problem, it states fishing nets make up 46% of the oceans' plastic pollution.
Co-director of the documentary, Ali Tabrizi said whilst filming Seaspiracy: "There is a garbage truck load of plastic dumped every minute into the ocean and over 150 billion tonnes of micro plastics are already there – they now outnumber the stars in the milky way".
3. The ocean could be empty by 2048
Marine biologist Dr Sylvia Alice Earle, who was interviewed on the documentary, claims that if the high rate of fishing of 2.7 trillion fish each year continues, we could see the ocean empty.
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She said: "The estimate is by the middle of 21st century, if we keep taking wild fish at the level we are today there won’t be enough fish to catch".
With co-director Ali also stating: "If current fishing trends continue, we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048".
4. Methods of fishing have changed
Fishing is now taking place on a larger scale than ever before, with new methods such as "bottom crawling".
This involves heavy nets crawling along the bottom of the ocean floor, capturing fish but also killing the ocean floors as it goes, including coral. It is said this kills 3.9 billion acres of the seabed every year, the equivalent to 4,316 football pitches a minute.
Environmentalist George Monbiot said in the documentary: "It’s a fishing industry that is destroying the fish and the rest of the lives of the sea".
With less than 1% of the ocean being protected from fishing, researchers say it should actually be at around 30% protected.
The fishing industry is changing as demand grows
(Image: Sea Shepherd)
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Seaspiracy also suggests fishing is the largest industry that takes the most lives of mammals.
5. By-catching is a huge problem
"Bycatch" means an accidental catch that was not intended to happen. Up to 50 million sharks are said to be accidentally caught each year.
As well as this, the death of dolphins, salmon and cod are happening for no reason other than because it was a "bycatch".
Killing off the animals creates a huge problem for the ocean's cycle. Sharks and dolphins are needed for the fertilisation of phytoplankton – which is an essential part to the ocean and freshwater ecosystem. Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide helping to reduce the Earth's carbon footprint and slow down global warming.
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The founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society states in the documentary: "If you want to address climate change, the first thing you do is protect the ocean, and the solution to that is very simple, leave it alone."
6. 'Sustainable' doesn't always mean it's sustainable
Many people thought there was a type of fishing that was sustainable – a way to maintain fishing at a certain rate or level. According to Seaspiracy directors there isn’t anymore.
María José Cornax, Fisheries Campaigns Manager for Oceana Europe said: "There is not a definition of sustainability as a whole for fisheries…The consumer cannot assess right now properly what fish is sustainable and what is not. The consumer cannot make an informed decision right now".
Dr Sylvia Alice Earle says large extraction of wildlife "is not sustainable" and "it just doesn’t exist".
7. Fishing slavery is a huge problem
A shocking realisation discovered in the documentary states that fishermen are held captive on fishing boats for years, some enslaved for 20 years before escaping.
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The documentary interviews anonymous men who were forced to work on fishing boats, without the freedom to leave at anytime and the threat of being thrown over board if they were to disobey.
It states men were thrown out at sea, their families not knowing what truly happened to them, and suggests that 360,000 men died at sea over a course of five years.
With any documentary you cannot be sure to know how much is true or what could be seen as speculations. There’s been claims involving both sides towards the Netflix documentary of how much of a true representation this is.
Some experts have accused the film-makers of making "misleading claims", and using out-of-contest interviews.
However it does make you think about the wider picture, about what we can do to protect our world we live in and the wildlife that surrounds us.
Small changes can go along way in helping our planet. Reductions of meat or fish consumption, regularly swapping plastic for recyclables or heading to refill shops to restock your body wash. These small changes can make a big impact.