Before presenting a compelling case against the global fishing industry which has, over the past decades, wreaked havoc on our planet's marine ecosystems, British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, in his latest documentary - Seaspiracy, says, "For me, the oceans were an indestructible source of inspiration. But not long into starting the project, this romantic idea that I always had of the ocean completely changed."
Watch "Seaspiracy" trailer here
Seaspiracy, a 90-minute Netflix documentary that was released on March 24, quickly rose to be one of the most watched shows on the streaming pioneer upon its release. It shocked the internet by revealing how the fishing industry across the world has been engaged in actions that range from overfishing, degradation of natural habitats to the exploitation of slave labor!
The documentary, through stunning visuals and interesting interviews, seeks to get to the bottom of what it calls a "massive conspiracy" by the fishing industry and other beneficiaries who exploit the oceans for monetary gains. With this goal, Seaspiracy shows how aquatic animals like whales and dolphins are hunted down.
Whales fertilise phytoplankton in the ocean through their excrements, which, in turn, absorbs carbon keeping the balance in the atmosphere. Like whales, sharks and dolphins, along every species of fish, are important to preserve the ecosystem which is being destabilised through overfishing.
This, according to the documentary, will lead to the extinction of ocean species by as early as 2048! Although this claim has been challenged by many expert marine biologists, it does point towards a dark and grim future for the planet if we are already talking about the extinction of a large number of organisms that play a vital role behind keeping the planet habitable.
To illustrate the issue of marine life destruction, Seaspiracy uses the example of the "Great Pacific Garbage patch", a massive gyre of marine debris particles located in the central North Pacific Ocean. This huge pile of various particles covers an area of 1.6 million square kilometers which is three times the size of France!
What is more striking is that 46 percent of this garbage patch is synthetic fishing nets which have been destroying marine life on a horrific scale.
The director and narrator - Tabrizi, also sheds light on "bycatches" - aquatic animals that are caught during fishing operations but are of no use to the fishers. According to Seaspiracy, these bycatches roughly kill 11,000 - 30,000 sharks by the hour and are dangerously harming the marine biosphere.
And as if killing whales, turtles, and other marine life forms by the millions was not enough, we get to know of "trawling", a process which sweeps the ocean floor with gigantic nets in search of fish. It reportedly wipes out 3.9 billion acres of forest resting on the ocean bed every year.
The documentary also talks about the roles of companies running billion dollar fishi businesses with very little oversight. Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation describes how more than 51,000 Thai boats fishing boats on the oceans have laborers who are forced to work there, sometimes even for years. This slave labor has led the film to use terms as "blood shrimps" to allude to the horrible conditions in which many men work in this industry.
Tabrizi also questions the Marine Stewardship Council regarding its concept of "sustainable fishing" and IMMP's (International Marine Mammal Project) "dolphin safe tuna program" label.
The documentary, however, has been accused by many as misleading including Mak Palmer, the associate US director of IMMP who took part in one of the interviews. He has accused Tabrizi of misinterpreting his comments about "safe dolphin tuna labels" which the documentary presents in a way that Palmer thinks disregards the efforts of many who have worked to decrease killings of dolphins over the years.
Few others have also dismissed the documentary as "vegan propaganda that seeks to stop people from eating fish altogether".
Whether Tabrizi has cherry-picked some facts to support his vegan ideology or not, one thing is beyond suspicion.
Our oceans are facing tremendous threats and exploitation. If we do not stop plastic littering and destructive activities as hunting 5 million fish every minute (which translates to 2.7 trillion fish a year, not to mention millions of dead sharks and dolphins as by-catches), we might have to leave a planet to our next generations which will only have lifeless oceans and a doomed ecosystem.
Seaspiracy has raised all these crucial issues and more. With its interesting visuals and intriguing narration, Seaspiracy is a must watch for each and every environment-conscious viewer.