Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., is the author of What a Fish Knows and Super Fly and co-star of the new Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy. He recently shared his thoughts on the film with Sentient Media. Here’s what he had to say:Play00:00-01:25MuteSettingsEnter fullscreenhttps://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/bTEQqODe5gM?autoplay=0&controls=0&disablekb=1&playsinline=0&cc_load_policy=0&cc_lang_pref=auto&widget_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fsentientmedia.org%2Fseaspiracy-co-star-jonathan-balcombe-gives-his-take-on-the-film%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR3SkGmGZuLTRswhwMjq2mDsRZrhKQvy2l-rfd9eqVU0c5_yUqVi4nsBwvo&noCookie=true&rel=0&showinfo=0&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fsentientmedia.org&widgetid=1Play
Jonathan Balcombe: The new film Seaspiracy does a terrific job of lifting the veil off of humanity’s terrible, unremitting exploitation of ocean habitats and its denizens. I like many things about this film. More so than many documentaries, it tells a story, that of filmmaker Ali Tabrizi and his partner Lucy Tabrizi’s global quest to document the various ways we are ruining ocean habitats. The couple set out to examine the problem of ocean plastics, and in doing so they discover that this is just the tip of the iceberg in our current path of destruction. I was pleased that the film emphasized the cruel and unconscionable ways that billions, perhaps trillions of fishes suffer and die at our hands every year.
Interviews with representatives of organizations purporting to protect oceans reveal a willful neglect of the paramount issue—our insatiable appetite for fish—reminiscent of producer Kip Anderson’s 2014 film Cowspiracy. I especially like that the film manages to end on a hopeful note, reminding viewers that we each can play a role in mitigating and ultimately reversing our voracious impact on sea creatures by refraining from eating them. If you haven’t already, watch this film. If you still eat fish, stop.Read More
Operation Icefish represented a turning point in human history. Sea Shepherd broke the record for the longest maritime pursuit when they chased the toothfish poaching vessel Thunder for 110 days from the frigid seas of Antarctica to the coast of West Africa. They confiscated 75 km of net and boarded the vessel to retrieve evidence when it sank itself to avoid prosecution. The captain and officers of the vessel were sentenced to two to six years in prison and the company was fined more than $30 million. Sea Shepherd later provided information that resulted in the arrest of four other “Bandit 6” vessels before chasing the Viking to Indonesia, where it was blown up by authorities. Effectively ending illegal fishing in Antarctica, none of these vessels poached again, and this case has been cited by INTERPOL and other global law enforcement bodies. During the course of the second year of Operation Icefish, Sea Shepherd stumbled upon a fleet of illegal driftnet vessels in the Southern Indian Ocean. Operation Driftnet saw them chase the fleet back to China, reporting and documenting its activities, seizing 5 km of net, and ultimately securing $1 million in fines against the company and costing the captains their fishing licenses. Something remarkable happened as a result of these partnerships: countries wanted to work with Sea Shepherd to stop illegal fishing. Since 2016, they have launched Operation Albacore, Operation Sola Stella, Operation Jodari, Operation Guegou, Operation Vanguard, Operation Sierra Leone Coastal Defense, and Operation Gambian Coastal Defense. These partnerships with the governments of Gabon, Sao Tome y Principe, Liberia, Tanzania, Benin, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia have resulted in the arrest of nearly 75 IUU fishing vessels for crimes like shark finning, using banned gear, using undocumented immigrants for labor, violating human rights laws, smuggling drugs and mangroves, bribing officials, catching endangered species, fishing in marine protected areas, and a plethora of other offenses. This is merely the expansion of their earlier efforts against illegal fishing. They were active in the fight against driftnet fishing in the North Pacific, Caribbean, North Atlantic, and Mediterranean and dolphin bycatch in the tuna nets of the Eastern Pacific between 1987 and 1997, resulting in bans in these practices. They evicted cod trawling vessels from Canada in 1993, secured a temporary ban on salmon fishing in British Columbia in 1995, and worked on several occasions to protect Cocos Island, Malpelo Island, Coiba Island, and Fernando de Noronha between 1992 and 2017. Their most famous collaboration was with the government of Ecuador between 1999 and 2017 to stop the plundering of the Galapagos Marine Reserve; aside from busting dozens of poaching operations and exposing corruption in environmental law, they launched landmark legal, educational, monitoring, surveillance, and detection programs. The modern iteration of this campaign is Operation Treasured Islands; the organization is working with Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador to stop illegal fishing. Modern threats have required modern solutions, and their range has been truly global: Operation Apex Harmony-Timor Leste led to the arrest of 15 shark finning vessels and three driftnet vessels in just a few weeks, saving the lives of a million sharks. Operation Blue Rage, covered in the TV show “Whale Wars,” exposed the illegal bluefin industry in the Mediterranean. Operation Requiem worked with the Phoenix Islands and other South Pacific areas to stop shark finning. Operation Sunu Gaal busted numerous illegal fishing operations in Senegal. Operation Cap Roux and Operation Siracusa have focused on stopping poaching in the marine reserves of Southern France and Sicily. Operation Anguilla is working to stop the poaching of eels in Italy, and Operation Siso has cleaned up numerous tons of fishing gear from the Aeolian Islands. Operation Oresund exposed illegal trawling along the coast of Denmark. Nor have their efforts focused only on species being intentionally caught. They are working to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction caused by bycatch in nets, protecting Hector’s dolphins from industrial trawling, exposing the slaughter of 11,000 dolphins a year by French vessels in the Bay of Biscay, protecting porpoises in the Baltic, and have previously saved the Saimaa seal of Finland from extinction with Operation Milagro, Operation Pahu, Operation Dolphin Bycatch, Operation Perkunas, and Operation Saimaa Seal, respectively. This is in addition to their legal workshops in the Philippines, Malaysia, Gabon, Peru, Palau, China, Indonesia, Mauritania, Senegal, Singapore, Thailand, Liberia, and numerous other nations. If there is one organization doing more than any to protect the oceans from the onslaught of IUU fishing, it is Sea Shepherd. Their efforts have busted hundreds of illegal operators, changed laws, and rallied the international community to see IUU fishing as a threat to national security and the global environment.
The slander against the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy says a lot about fishing industry influence in marine science. We have somehow allowed the fisheries industry’s own scientists to define sustainable fishing goals — it’s a disgrace leading to an ecological nightmare.
“Ocean QAnon,” “eco-fascism,” “self-indulgent vegan propaganda” — fishing industry scientists are angry about Seaspiracy, the new Netflix special topping charts around the world, which details the impact of industrial fishing on marine life and the complicity of certification labels and even some ocean conservation groups. The controversy swirling around Seaspiracy seems to center around statistics, but beneath the surface lurk deeper questions about industry influence in marine science.
Seaspiracy is not without its faults. Its interview style is abrasive. It has excessive animation. It makes a couple of statistical misinterpretations and several oversimplifications. Yet the film is mainly accurate and devastatingly detailed, provoking viewers around the world to question the industry values that have become integral to marine science orthodoxy: Why do we call fish populations “stocks”? What does it mean to call them “under-fished”? How do they calculate maximum sustainable yield? Is it really sustainable?
The academy’s response to Seaspiracy was swift, stern, and sloppy. Although allegedly leaked documents show that groups like the National Fisheries Institute were preparing a media response for weeks, the industry-funded Sustainable Fisheries, University of Washington’s fact-check page falsely claimed that one of the film’s source studies — estimating 20-32 percent of marine life imported to the United States was caught illegally — had been retracted. Ironically, they had to retract the claim. Sustainable Fisheries UW correctly questioned a sea turtle bycatch statistic, for which Seaspiracy repeated a mistake made on a Sea Turtle Conservancy white paper. Even though fisheries scientists tracked down the source study, they didn’t seem to read the abstract, which revealed that the near-global figure was misattributed to the United States. Instead, they attacked its credibility, revealing the modus operandi of fishing industry public relations.
It’s fair to say that Seaspiracy cited some studies that can be considered dated or disputed, but it also left out some of the most harrowing statistics published in recent years. The most current worldwide analysis estimated the bycatch of at least 8.5 million sea turtles in a seventeen-year period. Catch reconstructions show total fish hauls as peaking in 1996 and declining ever since, despite exponential industrialization and permeation of fishing fleets. A global investigation of navigation patterns estimated up to a quarter of fishing vessels may have forced labor on deck.
The most controversial statistic in the film is the projection of global crashes in commercially exploited fish populations by 2048. What the industry doesn’t mention is that they generated the controversy. Since the 2006 publication of “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services” in Science magazine, industry groups have doggedly scoldedmediaoutlets for citing it. Professor Ray Hilborn, who founded Sustainable Fisheries UW, emerged as this study’s most prominent critic. A decade later, he would be exposed for not only receiving millions of dollars in seafood industry funding but failing to disclose it as a conflict of interest. While he did work with the author of the 2048 projection on a subsequent paper, this research didn’t correct or disprove its conclusions but rather cited them.
The lead author on both studies is a conservation biologist named Boris Worm, who said fisheries scientists’ cooperation on the second made him “somewhat more optimistic” but explicitly stated that the work “did not revisit the original projections.” When he finally did so in 2016, he clarified that updated models were less ominous but remained “sobering.” Hilborn nevertheless continues to crusade on behalf of industrial fishing, publicly advocating against marine reserves and providing testimony to lawmakers on the dangers of “under-fishing.” His foundation’s Seaspiracy response disputes four statistics out of more than one hundred, all of them by downplaying the degree of the problem and criticizing colleagues’ research, begging the question: Is the film full of errors, or does it just upset the industry?In essence, we have allowed fisheries industry scientists to define sustainable fishing goals, somewhat like allowing petroleum geologists to set emissions targets.
The enduring controversy over the 2048 projection is emblematic of a much deeper rift in marine science, between those who view fish as wildlife to be protected versus resources to be extracted — namely conservation biology versus fisheries science. While conservation biologists aim to restore fish populations, the explicit goal of fisheries science is to repress their recovery. The simplistic modeling formulae upon which modern fisheries science is founded defines the population level of maximum sustainable yield as half of a fish population’s carrying capacity. In theory, this strikes a balance between reproducing individuals and limiting factors where maximum population growth — and, conveniently, maximum profitability — will occur.
This means that when the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that two-thirds of “fish stocks [are] within biologically sustainable levels” (disputed in itself), this means that most of these populations are at approximately half their historical levels, with the remaining third lower yet. Below 40 percent, populations are classified as overfished — in the United States, however, the threshold is 25 percent. Anything above 60 percent carrying capacity is defined as “under-fished.” This philosophy is not only markedly errant from fishing practices sustained for millennia by indigenous cultures but has become one of the greatest threats to their subsistence. In essence, we have allowed fisheries industry scientists to define sustainable fishing goals, somewhat like allowing petroleum geologists to set emissions targets.
However, fisheries scientists weren’t the only academics to decry Seaspiracy. While received rather differently by marine biologists around the world, these industry paradigms run deep in American academia. Sylvia Earle and Callum Roberts, the marine biologists Seaspiracy consults, represent marginalized ideologies and receive criticism for valuing fish as wildlife, as Dr Earle puts it, arguing that our goal should be to minimize, not maximize, their extraction. This advocacy got her locked out of meetings as the first female chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, advising the regulatory body formerly called the National Marine Fisheries Service — now NOAA Fisheries — of which she says the “primary purpose is to serve the interest of commercial fishing.”
While the pointed message of the film has inspired a reflection on these values among average viewers, it seems that academic institutions, in fisheries science and marine biology alike, may be some of the last to consider them. At least that’s how I felt after a summer researching at UW.
“Looks like we’ll have another urchin-cracking party,” my principal investigator chuckled, planning another student’s study on urchin gonad contents. My eyes widened as I realized she was talking about “my” urchins, whose feeding behavior I was studying in tanks down the road. They were wild-captured giant red sea urchins — Strongylocentrotus franciscanus — the biggest species in the world. They can grow to twenty-one inches from spine to spine and live for perhaps two hundred years. Some of these urchins may have walked the seafloor below the bustling canoe fleets of the precolonial Salish nations. Many were likely older than me. I wanted to set them free but was hesitant to object, as this research project was a critical opportunity for me to build connections and obtain references for grad school.
As I loaded up the urchins near the dock, the marine lab’s program director approached me. I waved nervously. “Thank you,” she said, in her thick Senegalese accent. She told me of prestigious urchin researchers she’d seen in her career simply leave captured urchins in stagnating tanks to die in the sun. “Of course,” I replied. She must not have heard that there were other plans for them. As I reached the other side of the channel and cut the engine, I pulled out a plastic drum brush and began tickling the urchins’ tube feet until they let go. I leaned over the gunwale, placing them carefully in the water and finally came to my favorite — Houdini. I was never quite able to design an enclosure capable of containing that one.
Watching the little urchin slowly disappear into the depths of Puget Sound, I couldn’t help but smile, rediscovering what I had always known yet learned to forget: marine life is wildlife.
The upwelling scrutiny around Seaspiracy deflects from the greater issues it raises. Life on Earth began in the sea, and human life has always been bound to it. We must protect our ocean, using all strategies at our disposal, and collectively reclaim the authority to govern how it is treated from those who profit from its exploitation.
The filmmakers walked back their anti-seal hunt endorsement shortly after Ugrunna, an Iñupiaq TikToker, went viral for calling them out.By Anya ZoledziowskiTORONTO, CAApril 13, 2021, 12:02pm
21-YEAR-OLD IÑUPIAQ WOMAN, UGRUNNA, POSTED A NOW VIRAL TIKTOK, EXPLAINING WHY SEASPIRACY‘S ENDORSEMENT AGAINST THE SEAL HUNT IN CANADA IS PROBLEMATIC. IMAGE COURTESY UGRUNNA (TIKTOK)
The makers of Seaspiracy, a controversial new Netflix documentary that explores the fishing industry’s threat to marine life, are facing criticism for failing to acknowledge Inuit rights and customs after endorsing a call to end the seal hunt in Canada.
Last week, Seaspiracy’s Instagram account, which boasts more than half a million followers, shared a post with the banner, “Stop the Canadian Seal Hunt” and linked to a Humane Society petition asking the Canadian government to end the seal hunt. (The Humane Society has repeatedly faced allegations of disseminating false information about the hunt, including that it risks endangering the Harp seal population.)ADVERTISEMENT
“Fuck non-Natives that dont understand the importance of traditional hunting, especially fuck Seaspiracy on Instagram,” Ugrunna says in her video. “Thousands of people have already signed this petition not understanding the impact that it has on Inuit.”
Ugrunna points to racist, anti-Inuit messages in the comment section of Seaspiracy’s Instagram post, including one that said, “I feel nothing for human life. If you live in an area and the only sustainable way is killing animals…then move.”
“As if moving is even a possibility,” Ugrunna responds.
Ugrunna also explains how hunting supports Inuit who already suffer huge income disparities compared to people living in the south. “We are often attacked for the lifestyle we have lived for thousands of years and it’s rooted in ignorance and in not understanding the importance of tradition and culture,” Ugrunna told VICE World News.
On Monday, Seaspiracy posted a response to Ugrunna in an Instagram story.
“We recently put out a post sharing information about the annual seal hunt in Canada…the post however did not make the important distinction between mass slaughter of seals and the Inuit subsistence hunt, which has understandably caused some confusion and concern,” the post said. “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ugranna (sic) who brought this to our attention and clarify that we were referring to the industrial mass slaughter of seals, and not targeting those who depend on hunting.”ADVERTISEMENT
Ugrunna also set up her own petition calling on Seaspiracy to remove its anti-seal hunt calls from its pages. Seaspiracy’s posts have since been removed.
While most experts agree that industrial fishing is harmful, the film, which dropped on March 24, has come under fire from some marine biologists for allegedly making false claims. For example, the film says that by 2048, oceans will be “empty” if fishing practices don’t change. “This claim is a misinterpretation of a now-dated research paper,” marine biologist Daniel Pauly wrote in Vox. The film was produced by Kip Andersen, who is also behind vegan documentaries What The Health and Cowspiracy. What The Health was also accused of cherry-picking studies and misrepresenting facts.
Decades of animal rights activism against the seal hunt has dramatically reduced Inuit income. According to the Guardian, after Europe banned seal products in the 80s, the average income of a seal hunter in Resolute Bay, a hamlet in Nunavut, plummeted from $54,000 to only $1,000, while 18 of 20 villages in the Northwest Territories lost an estimated 60 percent of their communities’ income.https://oembed.vice.com/2ZUKv1C?lazy=1&v=1&app=1
“Many Inuit rely on our traditional ways of hunting in order to survive,” Ugrunna says in her TikTok. “As if enough hasn’t been stolen from us…This form of activism does absolutely nothing for positive change.” ADVERTISEMENThttps://f0c24d67ce8b4483079947b1a1579cec.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Ugrunna said people viewed the video as “undermining Seaspiracy’s entire message, but that was not my intention at all.” She said she wanted the organizers to explicitly acknowledge Inuit hunting.
“A lot of Indigenous people don’t have the right to hunt or fish still and are fighting for the right to practise their own culture. I didn’t want my people to go through that and I wanted to nip this problem at the bud to ensure my people would be safe,” Ugrunna said.
Even more problematic is the assumption that veganism is the best, or only, way to live sustainably and ethically, Ugrunna said.
“I always like to say that if you want to really have a zero carbon footprint then research how Indigenous people ate and lived on the land you’re living on.”
Ugrunna called the apology “a good step in the right direction,” but said people can’t be applauded for doing the “bare minimum.”
“We have to ensure that they actively fight against the racism we face,” Ugrunna said.
Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, who produced the documentary film Angry Inuk in defence of the seal hunt, told VICE World News Seaspiracy’s apology doesn’t go far enough, in part because a lot of Inuit work in commercial sealing. “You can’t just say, ‘I’m only against commercial or the Canadian seal hunt.’ Both include Inuit and are dominated by Inuit,” she said.
More than that, Arnaquq-Baril said that unlike many Indigenous peoples in Canada who don’t consider themselves Canadians, Inuit do, so referring to the “Canadian” seal hunt as if Inuit aren’t part of that “isn’t right.”ADVERTISEMENThttps://f0c24d67ce8b4483079947b1a1579cec.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
For Arnaquq-Baril, apologies need to be followed up with campaigns that don’t target racialized people and their economies.
“Of course animals should not be hunted to extinction, of course conservation should be an important issue, but stop using language that makes it sound like seals are going extinct,” Arnaquq-Baril said, adding that harp seals are “nowhere near extinct, so conservation is not an issue.”World News
Framing the seal hunt falsely and in a racist way threatens Inuit livelihoods and causes harm—online as well, Arnaquq-Baril said, who said she and others have received racist messages and threats in response to their speaking out.
“We’re constantly told online to just crawl away and die. I have a few messages like that that came into my life when I was struggling, and this happens on a daily basis to Inuit from the vegan community,” Arnaquq-Baril said. “I really want to debunk the idea in the vegan world that vegans are all about liberation and are fighting oppression and, therefore, can’t be oppressors themselves.”
Seaspiracy’s post is only the latest example of white veganism getting called out. Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq received death threats from animal rights advocates in 2014 after she posted an image of her daughter next to a dead seal. That same year, she shouted “Fuck PETA” in solidarity with the seal hunt during her acceptance speech for the Polaris Music Prize. VICE World News previously reported how the vegan movement often fails to acknowledge people of colour, even as it co-opts human suffering.
Listening to Dr. Martin Tobin testifying at the trial of Derek Chauvin was riveting. Here is a scientist, a world authority on breathing who explained what happened in great detail in a manner that the jury could understand and relate to.Dr. Tobin was the perfect expert witness with impressive knowledge of the science of breathing Dr. Tobin a world-renowned pulmonologist literally wrote THE book on the science of breathing.
According to the American Thoracic Society is “Dr. Tobin the supreme scholar of critical care medicine and editor or author of seven extraordinary textbooks on the subject.” The Lancet described his textbook Principles And Practice of Mechanical Ventilation as the “Bible” of the field of mechanical ventilation.Yet despite these prestigious credentials, defenders of accused murderer Derek Chauvin actually are questioning Tobin’s scientific knowledge or/and questioning his motivation, claiming that the fact that he did not charge a fee for his testimony indicates bias.If he had charged a fee, the claim would be that he was simply paid by the State to say what the State wanted him to say.So, what does this have to do with the Netflix film Seaspiracy?
Ali and Lucy Tabrizi have directed and produced a film in a way that the general public can understand and relate to, and the film includes some of the world’s foremost Ocean scientists and ocean activists.The other thing that Dr. Tobin’s testimony and Seaspiracy have in common are critics.The reality is that no matter what we do, no matter how good the science, no matter how well presented, there will be critics ready to question, ready to ridicule, ready to dismiss and ready to condemn.Critical constructive questions are okay and in fact encouraged but ridicule, dismissal and condemnation from critics are unacceptable and most likely influenced by a conflict of interests and/or simple jealously. I’m hearing criticisms about Seaspiracy from the usual suspects, all quick to challenge the science as they see it and to point out where they see flaws in the film. The usual suspects being people paid by the fishing industry or by NGO’s that profit from or support commercial fishing or even NGO’s that were not included in the film.Of course, there are things in the film that can be legitimately questioned. Every film certainly has flaws but usually the concerns are that the film did not cover certain issues. It is however quite difficult to cover a subject like global fishing in a mere 90 minutes.
The criticism of the science in the film is irrelevant and based on bias for the most part. There is always disagreement in science. The criticism that the film did not include experts is confusing. I don’t see how anyone can be regarded as more of an expert on the subject of the Ocean than Dr. Sylvia Earle.The criticism that the film promotes veganism is strange. The film never pretended to do otherwise. The fishing industry produces hundreds of films that promote the eating of fish. There is nothing secretive about the film’s position on eating fish.Will McCallum of Greenpeace U.K. criticized the film by saying “turning vegan can’t be the only answer.””A campaign that focuses only on veganism ignores the billions of people that depend on the oceans for survival,” said McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK.”And without finding a lasting solution that looks after people and planet, our oceans don’t stand a chance.” A predictable response considering even Greenpeace ships are not vegan and serve fish to their crew compared to Sea Shepherd ships having had a vegan diet policy for three decades but McCallum’s statement that billions of people depend on the oceans for survival skirts around the fact that artisanal fishers, poor nations and indigenous people are not the people industrialized fishing is catering too. The European and Asian commercial fleets catch fish for wealthy consumers and in doing so are literally stealing the fish from poorer nations.Greenpeace was not depicted in the film which may be on reason Greenpeace is not happy with it.Oceana’s responded by saying, “Choosing to abstain from consuming seafood is not a realistic choice for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coastal fisheries – many of whom are also facing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition,” the group said.Once again, they miss the point. The film never attacked coastal fishing communities but it did attack commercial operations that are plundering the waters offshore of coastal communities. They film is not advocating veganism for impoverished peoples facing hunger and malnutrition. In fact, the film stresses that it is industrialized fishing that is the cause of mass starvation and poverty.
The very fact that Oceana refers to living marine beings as “seafood.” Indicates their bias in favor of the fishing industry.I once attended a meeting on Ocean Conservation held by Conservation International in the Dominican Republic where both Dr. Sylvia Earle and I witnessed a smorgasbord of fish presented to the participants. We both marveled at the fact that the organizers did not see the contradictions. Ordering Chilean Sea Bass (Not a bass and not from Chile by the way) in a New York upper scale restaurant or eating Bluefin tuna on sushi rice in Tokyo has nothing to do with poor communities in Africa and India that have suffered greatly from the ravages of industrialized fishing. The criticism that the film was shoddy journalism would be concerning if not for the fact that the film was made by film makers not by journalists. Film makers have a story to tell whereas journalists report on stories about other people, things or happenings. The criticism that the film is racist is ridiculous. One fishing industry critic Fisheries consultant Francisco Blaha amusingly generalized the filmmakers by stating that the film has a tendency to generalize. He tweeted, “I’m over the set up where the ‘bad guys’ are predominantly Asian, the ‘victims’ predominantly black/brown, and the ‘good guys’ talking about it and saving the ocean are predominantly white.”Blaha admits in a tweet that he actually did not see the entire film and his bias is apparent in his job title as “fisheries consultant” to industrialized fishing corporations. In the film the bad guys are not predominantly Asian. The film’s focus is on European as well as Asian fishermen and shows how artisanal fishing communities in Africa are being devastated by industrialized fishing. Industrialized fishing corporations are the bad guys. His assertion that those in the film are predominantly white males is also incorrect. The film was made by a man of Middle Eastern background and a woman – Lucy Tabrizi and features the voices of Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Jane Hightower, Tamara Arenovich, Lori Marino and Lamya Essemlali amongst others. A common tactic of the commercial fishing industry is to distract from the destruction they cause by attempting to make the public believe that the fishing industry is simply made up of hard-working fisherfolk out there in small boats in heavy weather, working hard and taking risks to provide a necessary need for the good of humanity.The reality is that commercial fisheries are instead huge corporate entities with 100 million-dollar vessels like super trawlers, bottom trawler, purse seiners, gill netters and long liners. They are not engaged in “catching” fish. What they are doing is raping and plundering life from the Ocean, destroying bottom structures and pulling trillions of animals from the sea in a systematic policy of biological extermination for the sake of profit.
The entire global fishing industry is a polished efficient extraction industry that utilizes deception and distraction to justify their greed and destruction.Despite the self-serving industry critics, this extraordinary film is a critically acclaimed success and that is a fact. It is a weapon of revelation influencing millions and it needs to be built upon and not dismissed or belittled, especially by people who profess to care about marine ecology. The Ocean does not have time for the justifiers, the appeasers and the complainers. Right now, the Ocean needs activists more than scientists.
Seaspiracy seeks to uncover ‘alarming global corruption’ – and is already facing backlash from the fishing industry before it’s reached screens, the leaked document revealedby Emily Baker16th March 2021Updated 17th March 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes
AUS seafood industry body is launching a campaign in response to the discoveries it labels ‘vegan propaganda’ showcased in the upcoming documentary, Seaspiracy – despite the fact the film is yet to be released.
It was revealed in a leaked document sent to Plant Based News.
Protecting the seafood industry
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is a trade group that represents the US seafood industry, and actively encourages people to eat marine life. Moreover, it claims to be committed to ‘sustainable’ fishing and ‘responsible aquaculture’.
In addition, the NFI says it works to ensure both the media and consumers ‘have the facts about seafood’.
The letter brands the documentary, soon to be screened on Netflix, a ‘dishonest attack’. This is in anticipation of its discoveries and claims it ‘disingenuously’ targets the fishing industry – despite not viewing it.
Seaspiracy branded a ‘dishonest attack’
NFI said: “But hijacking a lifestyle while disingenuously targeting an industry that provides billions of healthy meals and employs 1.7 million Americans is an unacceptable and dishonest attack.”
As a result, the organization is planning retaliation in order to protect the industry, the leaked private document confirms. The media strategy will ‘combat inaccuracies’ and ‘highlight Netflix’s lack of oversight when it comes to the presentation of facts’, it continues.
As a result, it is ‘reaching out’ to restaurant and retail customers in the seafood sector to arm them with ‘friendly talking points’ once the film debuts on March 24.
Letter to Netflix
It goes on to state that the NFI expects Seaspiracy to be an ‘unabashedly vegan activist production’ similar to that of hit Cowspiracy and What The Health?, as Kip Andersen produced all three.
Additionally, the NFI reached out to Netflix, accusing it of promoting ‘propaganda over facts’.
In a letter, it told the streaming service that both Cowspiracy and What The Health? contained a ‘litany of hyperbole’ over fears Seaspiracy will be similar.
The letter voiced grievances to Netflix’s Co-CEO, claiming the documentary is ‘masquerading’ as facts about seafood.
It reads: “The producers of this film are vegan activists… Veganism is a fine choice for some – but my heavens, they do miss out on the complete array of seafood options like enormous King Crab, buttery Maine lobster, succulent Iceland cod, and omega-rich Alaska salmon.”
In a separate press release, the NFI claims it called on Netflix to create a ‘propaganda’ tab on its website for ‘films based on exaggeration, fabrications and conspiracy theories’.
Seaspiracy premiered on Netflix less than two weeks ago. Just four days after it was released, it had already made it to the Top 10 lists on Netflix in more than 32 countries, including the U.K. and the U.S. Netflix does not release viewing numbers often (or in most cases, at all) but we can take this as a strong indication that the film is getting a lot of viewing traction. The documentary is also getting its fair share of blowback. A barrage of criticism from NGOs, marine biologists, scientists, fisherpeople, fishing industry heads and social media commentators suggest that the film is too (Redditors are having a field day). Below, we dive into the backlash, starting with the responses from the various organizations depicted in the film.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Overally, MSC’s statement is rather mild, given how they are portrayed in the film (or not portrayed)- remember that they did not answer calls or requests for interviews and . The gist of their response is that sustainable fishing is very much what they believe the world needs.
“While we disagree with much of what the Seaspiracy documentary-makers say, one thing we do agree with is that there is a crisis of overfishing in our oceans. However, millions around the world rely on seafood for their protein needs. With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the need to harness our natural resources more responsibly is more urgent than ever. Sustainable fishing has a vital role to play in securing those resources.”
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Their statement is on the shorter end and mostly involves disputing the film’s representation of their funding and highlighting that both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are members of their Coalition.
“Plastic Pollution Coalition is not funded by Earth Island Institute or working with other projects of Earth Island Institute to support the commercial fishing industry. Plastic Pollution Coalition has a small but mighty staff supporting a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways, oceans, and the environment.”
April 6 2020 Update: the above statement was taken on March 28th. The response page has since been updated with a more complete list of Q&As about the film above the original response, included one about their relationship to Earth Island Institute:
“We are not funded by Earth Island Institute; rather, we pay Earth Island Institute to run our human resources and payroll for our small and mighty staff of 9 people. Our work is in no way dictated by Earth Island Institute.”
Oceana’s statement, fairly concise as well, mostly focuses on their policy victories and disputes the movie’s conclusion- they believe coastal communities need to consume fish for survival.
“We believe people have the right to choose what they eat, and we applaud those who make personal choices to improve the health of our planet. However, choosing to abstain from consuming seafood is not a realistic choice for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coastal fisheries – many of whom are also facing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Oceana campaigns to save the oceans for both the people who depend on them and to protect the marine animals (and other forms of life) who live in them.”
Will McCallum of Greenpeace
This article is not presented as a response to Seaspiracy, in fact the movie is not referenced at all. Still, given the arguments presented and the publication date (Mar 23 2021), it’s reasonable to infer that it’s meant to engage with the discussion. McCallum, who is Head of Oceans at Greenpeace, elaborates on the problem of overfishing that he has seen first hand, while underlining that populations in the Global South that rely on fishing for their livelihood must be supported.
“During my time as an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, I’ve sat in a tiny boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, watching a fishing boat pull in miles of drift nets. The nets were full of tuna, but there were also dead spinner dolphins, manta rays, thresher sharks and more – a grim demonstration of devastation at sea. I’ve been right up close with some of the biggest fishing vessels in the world, watching as they haul out incomprehensible numbers of fish.”
“For years, Greenpeace has been telling our supporters that eating less fish and eating a more plant-based diet is key for ocean health. But campaigning for a blanket ban on fishing would undermine the rights of people worldwide who depend on the oceans for their food and livelihoods and who are in desperate need of allies prepared to speak up on their behalf.”
Earth Island Institute (Dolphin Safe)
Earth Island Institute, which manages the Dolphin Safe label that was harpooned in the film, issued a statement on behalf of their International Marine Mammal Project, which in their own words “worked assiduously for the protection of marine mammals for more than 40 years” backing their Dolphin work.
“David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project stated, ‘The dolphin-safe tuna program is responsible for the largest decline in dolphin deaths by tuna fishing vessels in history. Dolphin-kill levels have been reduced by more than 95 percent, preventing the indiscriminate slaughter of more than 100,000 dolphins every year.’
Phillips added, ‘While covering critical topics, Seaspiracy unfortunately does a disservice to a number of organizations that are doing critical work to protect oceans and marine life. It’s no surprise that the New York Times panned the film for entrapping interviewees with leading questions and getting lost in a sea of murky conspiratorial thinking.’ “
Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA)
The Global Aquaculture Alliance, which later this year will become the Global Seafood Alliance given its work around wild fisheries as well as farmed setups, was not directly named in the film, though it has responded to Seaspiracy by inviting Tabrizi and Kip Anderson, the movie’s executive producer to join them in a roundtable debate, a gesture worth applauding.
“In light of the documentary “Seaspiracy,” released on Netflix on March 24, GAA invites director Ali Tabrizi and executive producer Kip Anderson to join the nonprofit organization’s responsible-seafood journey by participating in its upcoming discussion on social accountability as part of its series of GOAL 2021 virtual events.”
GAA says “is committed to continually raising the bar on social accountability through the adoption of standards and certification demonstrating best practices in aquaculture and fisheries as well as through its pre-competitive education and advocacy work.”
What should you believe?
Now you’ve got a handle on the other side of the story. Here’s the gist of most of the arguments and statements: the film raises important issues about illegal overfishing, but it’s wrong to insist that there is no such thing as sustainable fishing and many low income communities rely on fishing for subsistence. Further, the more angry commenters and debaters add that it’s elitist to ask people to convert to veganism, and that the film is one-sided in its arguments.
Our take on the above:
If you don’t like the film, that’s your right. However, do make sure you have actually watched it before you critique it.
Do your own homework- you don’t have to believe Tabrizi and the Seaspiracy producers, but don’t blindly believe the NGOs and other interested parties either. Everyone has an agenda (and most of the most ardent critiquers make their money from, your guessed it, fishing). Tabrizi’s agenda may be to promote veganism. He is not hiding this.
The film is one-sided, this is a fact. For the better part of the last few decades, we have been fed the other one-sided side, aka the fishing industry’s story.
Veganism is an all encompassing lifestyle choice based first and foremost on compassion for all beings. This includes fish and marine wildlife. End of story.
As a consumer, you likely have very little oversight into whether the fish you are eating is 1) mercury & heavy metal free, 2) was fished without marine bycatch, 3) is actually the species you believe it to be, 4) was fished legally and without any slave/indentured labor and 5) was partially responsible for any fishing gear debris left in the ocean. If you feel you can be sure on all these points, then by all means, go ahead and consume fish. If not, reduce as much as you can.
It’s taken many years and relentless work by experts and activists (including films such as Cowspiracy), but finally people are starting to reduce their meat consumption. The problem? They are turning to fish instead. If this film helps stem this tide, it’s a net positive.
The argument that the film is looking to punish low-income coastal fishermen communities is a stretch- quite on the contrary, the Somali pirates segment does the opposite, illustrating how industrial overfishing led poor fishermen to lives of crime. This seems like an easy way for those with industrial fishing agendas to discredit it and on the whole, rings hollow.
Famous last words: Captain Paul Watson
Captain Paul Watson founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a human who has spent 60 years of his life at sea may deserve the last word here:
“Predictably, the successful release of Seaspiracy on Netflix is receiving some criticism from the usual subjects. That was expected, but it really is not all that important. Many documentaries that I have been involved with over the years have been met with similar negativity and vitriol. […] Seaspiracy as a film is what it is, a message transmitted by a medium to provoke discussion and to expose and illustrate a global problem and as such it is both powerful and influential and most importantly thanks to Netflix it is reaching millions and trending phenomenally. […] Filmmaking is storytelling. It’s meant to be emotive. It’s designed to captivate viewers and to entice discussion and controversy. If people are talking about it that means it’s a success. If people are criticizing it, that means it is having an impact. If some people are condemning it, that means that some people are threatened by it. Personally, I don’t care if there are scientists and industry people who dislike the film. I don’t need bio institutes and P.R. firms to lecture me on something I have seen and witnessed with my own eyes over the last 60 years. There is no such thing as a sustainable fishery. That is my considered observation based on 60 years of experience. Phytoplankton populations in the sea have been reduced by 40% since 1950 and that is probably the most important validated scientific fact to be concerned about. (Source: Scientific American). Life in the Ocean is being diminished and that diminishment is escalating. I’m not surprised that there are many who wish to deny this just as there have been many quick to deny climate change. Change comes about through stories and in today’s world, the most powerful communication medium is film. […] If they [the critics] want to make a film with what they consider to be “real” science they should do it. […] This film despite the naysayers and the critics is a critically acclaimed success and that is a fact. It is a weapon of revelation and it is influencing millions and it needs to be built upon and not dismissed or belittled, especially by people who profess to care about marine ecology. The Ocean does not have time for the justifiers, the appeasers and the complainers. Right now, the Ocean needs activists more than scientists.
There is no such thing as a sustainable commercial fishing industry. Over 2 trillion fish are taken from the sea every year and that figure does not include the 120 billion killed on fish farms. This kill is far larger than the estimated 65 billion animals slaughtered each year for meat and fur. The critics of Seaspiracy are trying to say that fishing can be sustainable and necessary by pointing to artisanal and indigenous communities suggesting that the film is racist. That is a ridiculous accusation. The film is directed at the reality of industrialized commercial fishing. The fishermen in their tiny boats in the waters off Africa or India are not the problem. In fact they are the victims of the problem as industrialized highly technological ships plunder their seas for profit. Traditional artisanal fishing communities in the Southwest coastal province of Kerala have long suffered from the mechanized vessels funded by Norway.
Commercial Norwegian fishing off India forced hundreds of thousands of Indians into poverty with the result that today Norway, the 2nd largest exporter of fish in the world (And the world’s No. 1 killer of whales) is a major exporter of fish to India. By destroying artisanal fishing, Norway reduced competition in India and increased their export sales to India.
Norway is also the world’s largest producer of farm raised salmon. Pirate fishing is also a major problem and many of these illegal operations are funded by companies in Spain and China and untraceable trans-shipping of fish at sea makes it difficult to track fish catches. Who are the pirates of Somalia? Why is piracy becoming a problem now in the West African Gulf of Guinea? The answer is desperate artisanal fishermen forced into piracy by the depredations of the highly efficient illegal operations by Europe and Asian commercial fisheries.
When consumers order fish on the menu or buy it from the market they are supporting the destruction worldwide of marine eco-systems. They are supporting the impoverishment of artisanal and indigenous communities. They are supporting slavery and the murder at sea of observers and rebellious slaves. When consumers eat meat or wear fur they are also supporting the destruction of marine eco-systems and slavery because some 40% of fish caught are rendered into fishmeal to feed chickens, pigs, domestic salmon and farm raised fur-bearing animals. Additionally 2.4 million tons of wild fish caught each year is used directly for cat food.
This is more fish for cats than consumed by all four species of seals ((Harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata), Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and Harbour seals(Phoca vitulina) in the waters of the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Chickens and pigs eat more fish than all the world’s puffins and albatross. This translates into a world out of balance and the antithesis of the word sustainable.In recent years the use of the words “sustainable” or “sustainability” has increased as species and eco-systems are depleted. It is the green-washing or blue-washing term of choice by the commercial fishing industry.
In 2021, no self respecting environmental NGO should be justifying, rationalizing and enabling commercial fishing operations. If they do so they are in willful denial of the reality of the threats to survival of life in the sea and on land.Since 1950, the seas have lost 40% of phytoplankton populations (Source: Scientific American). from pollution and diminishment of the nutrient base provided by marine life. Phytoplankton provides up to 70% of the oxygen in the air that sustains all life.
The Ocean is the life support system of this planet. Yes it provides food (Far too much for us and far too less for other species) but more importantly it provides oxygen and regulates climate and temperature. This life support system is maintained by a crew of living beings and we the human passengers feasting merrily and ignorantly oblivious at the table are murdering and consuming the crew that sustains this life support system.
Several days before Seaspiracy was released on Netflix, a response made by the National Fisheries Institute was leaked. Before audiences had gotten a chance to see the documentary, the fishing industry was already dismissing it as “vegan propaganda.” Unfortunately, it is unlikely that their opinion of the film emerged from any genuine Delphic foresight. Indeed, “propaganda” seems quite a puzzling label to stick on a movie that unravels its story in such a deliberate and reasoned manner.
The facts in the documentary are nothing short of remarkable. A marine biologist explains that the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, which spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the sea and saw countless images of seabirds coated in black, dying on slimy beaches, killed fewer animals than commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico kills in a single day. Indeed, the disaster actually allowed fish stocks in the Gulf to bounce back because it interfered with normal fishing operations. Other numbers in the film are so big they really can’t be comprehended, like the fact that humanity kills five million fish every second.
Lex Rigby, the head of investigations at Viva!, explained the apathy most people feel towards fish. “Whenever we talk about fish, we talk about harvesting them like crops,” she said. “We talk about their slaughter number in tonnage rather than individuals.” Perhaps this is one place Seaspiracy is a touch lackluster; it doesn’t dwell for long on the evidence that each fish is an individual with a distinct psychology, no matter how remote their experience is from ours, which can feel pain.
However, the movie does illustrate the troubling ways in which commercial fishing has been sidelined as an issue, even by the environmentally-conscious. Plastic is the favored bogeyman when it comes to ocean pollution, and it certainly is a serious problem. Yet popular talking points, like the murderous flotillas of plastic straws, are more or less total canards. Plastic straws make up 0.03 percent of ocean plastics, and all plastics combined kill roughly 1,000 sea turtles a year. Fishing, on the other hand, kills 250,000 sea turtles a year. Similarly, the origin of the plastic is often imagined to be apathetic consumers who purchase thirty plastic bags every trip they make to Walmart, and yet 46 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of fishing nets. These nets drift through the open ocean for miles, tangling and strangling thousands of animals as they go, and are far deadlier than plastic bags.
It is not an accident that fishing has been neglected in discussions about ocean conservation either. The issue has been obscured by specious labeling and a culture of omertà amongst governments and regulators. The Earth Island Institute relies on captains’ self-reporting when they hand out their dolphin-free labels, which is an obviously poor standard of evidence. Rigby described the way self-reporting is abused by fishing vessels, drawing from her time with Sea Shepherd off the coast of West Africa, “We counted one hundred and seventeen sharks in one net. They only reported four.”
The Marine Stewardship Council, whose ubiquitous blue tick assures millions of consumers that they are purchasing vetted and sustainable seafood, seem to have included the word ‘stewardship’ in their title as some sort of bad joke. The more blue ticks they hand out, the more money they make, and one of their founding members was the food (including seafood) giant Unilever. Additionally, the world’s sustainable fisheries are proved to be anything but, seeing as 90 percent of them continue to allow commercial fishing.
Those invested with the powers of stewardship neglect them. Citizens are left in the dark with misleading labels and glib talk about sustainable fishing for a comfort blanket, while the oceans are scraped and pillaged. Aquaculture, like salmon farming, is not a sustainable alternative to wild fishing, although it is promised to be. Salmon are fed wild fish, with 1.2 kilograms of wild fish producing 1 kilogram of salmon. The farms are teeming with lice which feed on the salmon while their accumulated waste creates zero-oxygen dead-zones.
Like all great explorations of ecology, Seaspiracy highlights the dramatic intersection between animal wellbeing, environmental health, and human prosperity. European and North American fishing fleets scouring the coasts of Africa drive local fishermen to bushmeat hunting, which causes pandemics like Ebola, or piracy, as happened in Somalia. Rigby described these local fishermen as “really the only sustainable fishing there is, just one man and his net pulling up enough to feed his family.” It is these sustainable communities which industrialized seafood has ruined; and they aren’t the only ones. Indeed, mangroves are cleared at the peril of locals, who are made vulnerable to tsunamis and typhoons, and the shrimp farms that replace them are often exploited by slave labor.
The documentary finishes with a famous event on the relatively obscure Faroe Island archipelago. Communities there participate in whale hunts, called Grindadráp, where locals round up pilot whales on boats before harpooning them en masse in the shallows. It is a gory and relentless scene, and the sea sloshes in Biblical reds under grim and misty cliffs. Here, the movie sticks the landing. Sustainable fishing has been discredited and the severity of human pillaging of the oceans has been put beyond doubt. Yet, even if these things could be managed, the film begs us to question if it would be worth it. It questions if fish and chips are really worth killing for, if dead whales soaking in a Norse lagoon is an acceptable sight in a world where kinder, greener and healthier alternatives exist. Such disturbing spectacles are by no means unique to the Faroes; one articulate whaler in the documentary points out that suffering is universal in global meat and fish production. Rigby described disturbing scenes from her own experience, from endangered whale sharks scooped up in nets in Africa, to lice-ridden salmon suffering on Scottish farms.
In 90 minutes, the film provides helpful graphics, illustrations, anecdotes, filmed evidence, mountains of data, and the opinion of scientists and ethicists to make its point. It doesn’t shrink from violence, nor does it fetishize it. The arguments are concise and plainly presented. Yet all this can be waved away by the magic wand of the fishing industry and fellow travelers as “vegan propaganda,” and well before the movie is even released. Remind me again who the propagandists are?Read More
It’s Time to Make a Big Deal About Something And That Something is the Dying Ocean..
By Captain Paul Watson.
Predictably, the successful release of Seaspiracy on Netflix is receiving some criticism from the usual subjects. That was expected, but it really is not all that important. Many documentaries that I have been involved with over the years have been met with similar negativity and vitriol. I remember the criticisms of Rob Stewart and his wonderful film Sharkwater. And The Cove also was belittled by some although the criticisms did not prevent the film from winning the Academy Award for best documentary of the year. Sea of Shadows was also belittled as was even my own film WATSON by Leslie Chicott and I do remember Lesley’s earlier film Inconvenient Truth and all the climate change denialists with their hired “scientist” apologists lambasting the credibility of Al Gore. And don’t even get me started on all the “experts” denouncing Greta Thunberg for being too dramatic, too, young, and too naïve for their taste. Seaspiracy as a film is what it is, a message transmitted by a medium to provoke discussion and to expose and illustrate a global problem and as such it is both powerful and influential and most importantly thanks to Netflix it is reaching millions and trending phenomenally. It was never meant to be some academic scientific dissertation filled with footnotes and boring references to peer reviewed papers. It’s a film, not some doctoral thesis to be picked apart in search of validation to justify a particular bias.
If we were to produce a 90-minute film with a purely objective scientific fact confirmed narrative as suggested, it would most likely not appeal to the general public and nothing would change. The corporations and those who work for them already know the facts. They just don’t care because they are motivated by profit.Film making is story telling. It’s meant to be emotive. It’s designed to captivate viewers and to entice discussion and controversy. If people are talking about it that means it’s a success. If people are criticizing it, that means it is having an impact. If some people are condemning it, that means that some people are threatened by it.Personally, I don’t care if there are scientists and industry people who dislike the film. I don’t need biostitutes and P.R. firms to lecture me on something I have seen and witnessed with my own eyes over the last 60 years. There is no such thing as a sustainable fishery. That is my considered observation based on 60 years of experience. Phytoplankton populations in the sea have been reduced by 40% since 1950 and that is probably the most important validated scientific fact to be concerned about. (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/…/phytoplankton…/
Life in the Ocean is being diminished and that diminishment is escalating. I’m not surprised that there are many who wish to deny this just as there have been many quick to deny climate change.Change comes about through stories and in today’s world, the most powerful communication medium is film. Lucy and Ali Tabrizi are telling an important story and it’s a great deal to tell in a mere 90 minutes. I would have liked to have seen more details, but more tends to be difficult when making a film because there always tends to be too much material and too little time. Seaspiracy is a hit and it is reaching millions and Ali and Lucy Tabrizi have done a wonderful job in a project that I have actively been involved with for the last few years and proud to be associated with as I’m sure Captain Peter Hammarstedt and Dr. Sylvia Earle are as well. Fisheries consultant Francisco Blaha amusingly generalized the filmmakers by stating that the film has a tendency to generalize. He tweeted, “I’m over the set up where the ‘bad guys’ are predominantly Asian, the ‘victims’ predominantly black/brown, and the ‘good guys’ talking about it and saving the ocean are predominantly white.”Blaha admits in a tweet that he actually did not see the entire film and his bias is apparent in his job title as “fisheries consultant” to industrialized fishing corporations. In the film the bad guys are not predominantly Asian. The film focus is on European as well as Asian fishermen and shows how artisanal fishing communities in Africa are being devastated by industrialized fishing. Industrialized fishing corporations are the bad guys. His assertion that those in the film are predominantly white males is also incorrect. The film was made by a man of Middle Eastern background and a woman – Lucy Tabrizi and features the voices of Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Jane Hightower, Tamara Arenovich, Lori Marino and Lamya Essemlali amongst others. As for Sea Shepherd, we are working hand in hand with African and Latin American nations to oppose Asian AND European exploitation of the waters of these nations. We are in fact working with and for African and Central and South America nations. This means we are working in opposition to the industry that Blaha consults for. In 2019, Blaha was the winner of the 2019 World Seafood Champion Award which is all we need to know to understand his bias
This film by Ali and Lucy is their project, it is their voice and they have every right to tell their story the way they wish to tell their story. If the critics don’t like it they should take up the challenge and make their own film. In fact, that is the only valid response. All this chatter and pooh-poohing of a film they happen to not like is irrelevant and meaningless.If they want to make a film with what they consider to be “real” science they should do it. It’s easy to be a critic, easy to slam the work and creativity of others. If there is a film they would rather see produced, one that meets with their approval they should just shut up and make it.
Farley Mowat wrote and made a TV series Sea of Slaughter a few decades ago. Solid science it was indeed yet it was dismissed by industry and restricted to the limited audience of the CBC and he was also told that he was not delivering his message properly meaning he should be doing it by not offending anyone. He warned us years ago about what was happening yet nothing changed and things became much worse.
This film despite the naysayers and the critics is a critically acclaimed success and that is a fact. It is a weapon of revelation and it is influencing millions and it needs to be built upon and not dismissed or belittled, especially by people who profess to care about marine ecology. The Ocean does not have time for the justifiers, the appeasers and the complainers. Right now, the Ocean needs activists more than scientists.https://www.ecowatch.com/commercial-fishing-netflix…