The 90-minute documentary by filmmaker Ali Tabrizi starts out as a nature documentary trying to understand whale stranding but soon turns into a journey uncovering the effects of the commercial fishing industry. With hidden cameras and filming in dangerous locations, the documentary tries to expose the illegal fishing markets which have a deeper, hidden system of corruption, slavery, and fraud, involving the big industry names and government backup. From whale hunts to industrial-scale bottom trawling, shark-finning to lice-infested fish farms, Tabrizi concludes that the global fishing supply chains are so convoluted and complex. Seaspiracy travels from Asia to Europe to the U.K making new revelations about the industry while maintaining a sense of urgency.
To fully understand the gravity of this problem known as Commercial Fishing and its impact on the marine ecosystems one needs to understand the role of fish in the world. Sharks, whales, and dolphins are apex predators. So they are at the very top of the food chain. They are what we can call level one. They eat level two. They eat the poor, the sick, the weak of level two. But when you take away level one, level two then overpopulates. And level two eats level three. So they’ll actually overpopulate. They’ll wipe out their food supply, which is level three. And then, level two’s got nothing to eat. So level two then disappears, and they go extinct. And it carries on down the food chain, down to the smallest organisms. So saving sharks is the key to the survival of our oceans. We understand that saving and planting trees really helps the carbon equation, but nothing matters more than maintaining the integrity of ocean systems. These apex predators and fish at all levels take up carbon. They sequester carbon when they die and sink to the bottom of the ocean. The ocean is the biggest carbon sink on the planet.
Captain Paul Watson, a Canadian activist explained the importance of oceans beautifully in the documentary, he said “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. I always equate it to this being a spaceship. The Earth is a spaceship. It’s on a trip around the galaxy. It takes 250 million years just to make one orbit. And every spaceship has a life-support system, provides us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, and regulates the climate, the temperatures. That life support system is run by a crew of earthlings, and there are only so many crew members you can kill before the machinery begins to break down, you run out of engineers. And that’s what’s happening, we’re killing off the crew”
We all are so busy talking about plastic in the ocean, overfishing, and overfishing-related waste issues such as; bycatch, unethical fish farming, button trawling, large amounts of waste from the industry; are overlooked. The documentary states that no such thing as ethical or sustainable fishing exists, so every time someone eats fish, they are contributing to habitat and biodiversity loss which effectively leads to climate change. People are not expected to change overnight. If you are a heavy fish eater or a pescatarian, reduce your intake, start looking for substitutes, try different plant-based foods. Make a difference through smaller steps that will lead to eventually stopping fish altogether. It is imperative to remember what Tabrizi says at the end of Seaspriacy:
“I realized the single best thing I could do every single day to protect the ocean and the marine life I loved, was to simply… not eat them”