5 Takeaways from Netflix's New Documentary: Seaspiracy
Seaspiracy premiered on Netflix in March 2021 and was directed by British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi. The documentary reveals the environmental impact of fishing and ocean pollution. It also gives an inside look into the global corruption perpetuated and protected by the fishing industry. This movie makes many excellent points, but we have highlighted five incredible takeaways from the film that we think are the most important to know.
1. Plastic Pollution
Single-use plastic products came into public discourse in 2015 when a video of a sea turtle with straw up its nose went viral. We dropped plastic straws in favor of glass and metal straws, with some states even enforcing a straw ban. While this is a good issue to support, it is actually one of the lesser problems in the bigger picture of plastic pollution. Plastic straws only make up about 0.025% of the plastic in the ocean, as cited by National Geographic. The largest plastic polluter is actually leftover commercial fishing equipment. The Guardian reports that it makes up about 70% of large ocean plastics and 10% of overall plastic pollution. The excess fishing gear creates a phenomenon called "ghost fishing," discarded fishing nets that continue to catch and tangle marine animals. There are about 950 thousand to 1 million tons of fishing gear discarded every year.
2. Fishing Affects the Entire World
The problem of over-fishing and plastic pollution will not stay in the ocean. It has already started to creep onto the land. Seaspiracy shared that 2.7 trillion fish caught every single year and our oceans will be empty by 2048. Even if we were not catching that many fish a year, the microplastics in the ocean are starving marine plants and killing coral, which is essential for our oxygen system. Seaspiracy shares that "seagrass captures and stores carbon at a rate several times faster than rainforests." We need both marine animals and plants to make sure our entire world is balanced and sustaining lives.
3. All Marine Animals Are Harmed
Fish are not one of the most favored animals. While they are as essential to the environment as any other marine animal, besides Nemo, they are not the cutest. People usually love dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and whales. However, even if you're not concerned about fish, the practice of fishing presents a danger to all marine creatures. Bycatch is non-targeted marine animals caught in commercial fishing nets. Commercial fishing drags massive fishing nets through the ocean to capture large schools of fish. The problem is that you cannot filter out other animals, which means all your favorite marine animals are caught in the nets. Bycatch makes up around 40% of the world's catch as reported by Oceana.
4.You Can't Always Trust Labels
When looking for brands to support, we often choose brands labeled as sustainable and ethical. The problem is that these labels are not clearly defined or regulated, so it is difficult to know which brands you can genuinely trust. Dolphin Safe tuna cans are preferred because it means they do not harm dolphins while catching tuna, but no one on the fishing ships can confirm this, and often, dolphins are harmed in the process. Some brands claim that they are sustainable sources; however, this is also difficult to verify. There are brands and people who do line-caught and ethical fishing, but they are the minority.
5. The Solution is to Cut Down On Seafood
The global seafood market made 159.31 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, according to Statista. The industry avoids losing business by making us feel like the problem is plastic straws and grocery bags. While switching to sustainable items is great, we will not reverse the damage done to the ocean ourselves. There needs to be a substantial global shift from depleting our ocean to letting it naturally replenish itself. They will lose money, but we will lose our ocean if we don't act. Seaspiracy stresses that you should cut out all seafood, but that is not an option for everyone. A great way you can protect the ocean is by significantly reducing the amount of seafood you consume. If everyone in the world cuts down the seafood or cuts it out of their diet if they want, it will turn the tides. We have the power to change; it's just important that we receive the correct information so we know which choices we can make that will have the most impact.
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