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Seaspiracy: Dark Secrets in Fishing Industry

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Seaspiracy takes a deep dive into the eye-opening experience of the global fishing industry, challenges the concept of “sustainable fishing” and answers the question most are scared to ask: How can we coexist with our ocean?

Fishing nets are the big villain of marine plastic pollution

Let’s call it for it is: Our oceans are sick of our single-use plastic. But unlike popular opinion, plastic straws are not the main culprit.

Although rarely discussed, fishing nets make up 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean. It goes without saying that they are hugely damaging to sea life, especially when they break down into microplastics.

So the fishing industry has got a lot of work to clean their mess up [1].


But overfishing beats plastic as the villain to our oceans

Plastic in the ocean is a serious problem, but there’s another threat to our ocean that’s wrecking ecosystems and driving some species toward extinction—overfishing.

About one third of the world’s fisheries are overfished [2]. On a visit to Taiji in southern Japan, Tabrizi discovers that dolphins are slaughtered for eating too many fish. Of course, they are simply scapegoats for overfishing and corporate greed.

According to Sea Shepherd, up to 10,000 dolphins are caught off the Atlantic coast of France every year alone as bycatch [3].

If that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, experts also believe that whale populations have declined from anywhere between 66% and 90% [4].

“By continued extraction of fish out of our oceans, you’re essentially deforesting our oceans by not only removing the fish, but the act of removal, the methods of removal are devastating to habitat, to ecosystems,” Richard Oppenlander, author of Food Choice and Sustainability.

The thing is, dolphins and whales are crucial in balancing the world temperature because when they return to the surface to breathe, they fertilize phytoplanktons which each year capture four times the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) than the Amazon rainforest does [5].

In a world so concerned with climate change, the survival of these animals is crucial.

Secrets behind Farmed Fish

We may think that farmed fish is more sustainable than wild fishing, but their prospect is hardly any better. For example, when Tabrizi goes undercover to a Scottish salmon farm, the stench is horrific. The salmon have lice infestations, infectious diseases, and even chlamydia.

Another shocking fact? Farmed salmon would actually be grey if it wasn’t fed a chemical that gives it its famous pink color.


Bluewashing in the Fish Industry

Tabrizi also shines a light on how sustainable certifications such as the Dolphin Safe and the Marine Stewardship Council labels can be shady. Asked in the film whether he could guarantee that every can of fish labelled ‘dolphin safe’ is actually dolphin-safe, Mark J Palmer from the Earth Island Institute said: “Nope. Nobody can. Once you’re out there in the ocean, how do you know what they’re doing? We have observers on board — observers can be bribed.”

“Labels often obscure what is really happening at sea.”- Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

So whenever you want to buy dolphin-safe tuna because it’s more sustainable, think again.


Hey, human lives are also at stake

You might have heard of blood diamonds, but “blood shrimps” are now a huge concern. As can be discussed in the documentary, the Thai fishing industry is reportedly using slave labour to catch shrimps and prawns. One former fisherman interviewed in the documentary described how he was abused and threatened at gunpoint, alleging that dead bodies of other fishermen are kept in freezers and whoever works there is seconds away from being thrown into the sea.

Throughout the world there are many fishing fleets that have highly exploitative, slave-like conditions. Up until now, very little has been done to address these conditions anywhere.” – Matthew Friedman, UNIAP [6]

In conclusion, Tabrizi arrives at the conclusion that to stop this madness, we need to entirely stop eating seafood. But, is it really possible?

Well, yes. As long as the regulations are not properly enforced and the unscrupulous people are still on the loose, we should be concerned of how our love for seafood is ruining our environment and future. And fret not, because there is now plant-based seafood if the thought of completely eating seafood scares the bejesus out of you. So let’s take the step towards a more sustainable life from changing the way we eat!


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