Review: Netflix Documentary Seaspiracy

Hi friends,

Not sure if everyone has watched this documentary but it has stirred up quite a lot of debate amongst netizens, specifically on Twitter.

To be completely honest, I watched the documentary with a bit of bias. My housemates have watched it and was talking about it over dinner, opinions like humans are evil, there is no more faith in humanity, is going plant-based the right answer or is stopping seafood the consumption the solution? were raised. I also saw a few comments on my Twitter feed about the inaccuracies of the film and the racist undertones as well.

My first impression of the documentary was I did not like the style at all. If I’m not mistaken, it’s in first person’s about the filmmaker’s quest of searching answers about the ocean. I didn’t like the first’s persons format. No hate to the film but its my personal preference. I prefer documentaries like Planet Earth, the style is very much different. The other thing I noticed was that a lot of the claims are backed by Sea Shepard, sure that professor came in a few times but most of the time it was someone from Sea Shepard, Sea Shepard this, Sea Shepard that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing that there are organisations out there doing something that not many people are doing but I feel that the claims might not be credible if they only feature one NGO and its not a whole view of the fishing industry/ work done by NGOs.

The film is actually under fire for its credibility. News reports from different media sites suggests that some figures in the film were outdated and has been retracted a long time ago. You can see here for the untrue facts cited in the film. I’m not sure to what extent you’ll believe in the website considering that the film has persecuted that most organisations do not care about the welfare of the ocean and that they are not talking about the issues highlighted in the film. because they could be getting monetary gains in sweeping the issue under the rug. The films states that there is a reason why people are only focusing on reducing plastic straw consumption but not fishing problems. I somewhat agree with that but I feel that their claims and perspectives discredits the hard work that people in the industry have done to ensure that the oceans are where it’s at now. The film focuses on all the negatives and did not highlight any positives of what the industry has done which in my opinion is the most dangerous aspect of the film. I’m sure different agencies are doing their best to protect the oceans but putting a blanketed statement saying that no ones is doing anything is very harmful. It only focuses on the good things that ONE NGO has done, but what about the others? Isn’t sinking ships illegal? Sure, more things need to be done but is it so difficult to highlight what has been done to help the ocean?

I suppose that is not the point of the film. The film wants people to see how eating seafood is detrimental to the sea. To some extent, I can see the problem. With dubious fisheries and unscrupulous businessmen, there must be some dirty fishing going on. But what about coastal cities, people’s whose livelihood depend on fishing, what is going to happen? I suppose there needs to be a proper action plan recommended in place before making the claim. Give suggestions to the people who will be affected by it. With the release of the film, I bet that demand will drop and with the pandemic, people in some part of the supply chain will be made redundant. The film opposes fish farming and I can see why but taking a hard left in supporting aquaculture at the end of the film is a bit ironic isn’t it?

I think what went well for the film is that it got people’s attention albeit dramatized because these problems have been previously talked about but might not have gained traction with the public. I also think that we need to be wary that the filmmaker isn’t a scientist nor an industry insider, so the problem of credibility may be somewhat understandable? However, don’t most people know that citing tabloids isn’t real citation? Perhaps, from a filmmaking standpoint, this documentary is a successful one because it’s gotten people to talk about it, maybe not for the good but its still talk no?

There are a lot of things that went wrong with the film but at least it gained traction. If you’re wondering what my stance is, I think that a heavy plant-base regime plus some meat each week is the way to go. I personally don’t think that cutting meat out completely is healthy. It’s the absorbency or something. Like we absorb most proteins from meat but to get the same amount of proteins we need to eat heaps and heaps of vegetables.

There are a lot of issues that has been raised about the film ,here are some links to a few things I’ve read about after watching that was quite eye opening:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/31/seaspiracy-netflix-documentary-accused-of-misrepresentation-by-participants
https://twitter.com/TaotaoTasi/status/1375002857066274819
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-short/seaspiracy-harms-more-than-it-educates/

I may be misinformed or maybe my opinions are not build on the right research. If so, please let me know, I’m happy to learn 🙂 Food for thought: What did you think of the film and what is your stance about it?

xx
mingx

3 thoughts on “Review: Netflix Documentary Seaspiracy

  1. Hi Mingx,

    To put my biases on table, I’m vegan, but I also watched the documentary with some skepticism. The gotcha style and conspiracy theory vibe is not making the movie a favor for sure. Plus some numbers were taken out of context. I wish they haven’t as this only reduced reliability of the movie.

    I think movie is right that fishing is not at all under the radar when it comes to environmental issues. Everyone is talking about impact of land animals, while most still think fishing doesn’t come with a package. Well, it does unfortunately…

    > The film focuses on all the negatives and did not highlight any positives of what the industry has done which in my opinion is the most dangerous aspect of the film.

    I agree, they should have given credit for many more conservation organizations.

    I’ve been reading quite a bit, both critiques and supporting statements. To begin with, the critique from “Sustainable Fisheries” doesn’t strike reliable to me. It’s the propaganda from the other side. They were the ones that claim movie used a retracted study, but in fact, they made a massive mistake and confused it with another retracted study. Later they retracted their claim about retraction 🙂
    Plus, here’s some fun information about the person who started that website: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/greenpeace-files-complaint-about-uw-fishery-professor/

    If you want to read a critique of critiques, here’s a good thread by Spencer Roberts: https://twitter.com/Unpop_Science/status/1381343628165980160
    Another piece by Monbiot: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/07/seaspiracy-earth-oceans-destruction-industrial-fishing

    > Isn’t sinking ships illegal?

    If you are talking about Sea Shepherd: No. They specifically fights against illegal fishing operations (similar to ones shown in the movie), and they the right granted by international law. They are even supported by governments. Technically, they are doing what governments are supposed to do at the first place. As far as I know they never caused any injury, or charged of a crime. You may want to read up on what they do, real bad-ass organization. https://seashepherd.org/laws-and-charters/

    > But what about coastal cities, people’s whose livelihood depend on fishing, what is going to happen?

    This is one of the critiques I don’t understand. The movie never made a statement everyone should stop fishing. I think it’s just telling people, “Your fish probably comes from a non-sustainable operation, easiest is to stop eating it”. If there is a fishing village/town, where people catch the fish themselves, it clearly doesn’t apply to them. I felt it was talking to people like me, living in a developed country, and can easily get all the nutrition they need without relying on fish.

    Also, worlds won’t go vegan just because movie propose people to stop eating fish. At most, privileged people will eat less/no fish. If that were to happen, fishing industry would have to make changes to ensure their standards are tighter, so I’d consider this a win.

    > The film opposes fish farming and I can see why but taking a hard left in supporting aquaculture at the end of the film is a bit ironic isn’t it?

    Did I miss something? Where do they support aquaculture?

    > I personally don’t think that cutting meat out completely is healthy.

    I understand your worries. I’ve personally been vegan since 3-4 years, and I’m strong and healthy as ever (I know, anecdotes don’t count much, but still :)). In case, if one day you were to give veganism a go, this is the most comprehensible and reliable source I know: https://veganhealth.org/

    One last thing, again most critiques assume this was a “environmental” movie, and miss the point that it’s also about animal rights, and animal suffering. We kill more then a trillion fish a year in the oceans (Compared to some billions of land animals). Most of these animals are crushed in nets… I wish people would stop seeing fish as if it’s a “resource” that we deplete, and see it as individuals we kill… Taking the things like bycatch into account, this image even becomes more harrowing.

    Best
    Cenk

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    • Ooooh thanks for all the great links. I’ll defo read more around this.
      I went on a short hiatus from blogging hence wasn’t able to see your comment. It’s been a while since I watched the documentary and I don’t remember much about the intricacies of it. I think the aquaculture was at the end bit where they went to the lab that was talking about growing seaweed in the ocean for human consumption – doesn’t that affect the biodiversity of the ocean floor as well?

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  2. > I think the aquaculture was at the end bit where they went to the lab that was talking about growing seaweed in the ocean for human consumption – doesn’t that affect the biodiversity of the ocean floor as well?
    Oh I see what you mean, sorry I misunderstood you and thought you were saying they supported fish farming. I don’t know the impact of seaweed farming in ocean, but in general we know that plant production is much less impactful compared to animal farming – it requires less land and resources. It’s possible that there are some negative impact from seaweed farming, but I find it hard to believe it would be worse compared to salmon farming. Happy to read if you have any sources.
    Cheers

    Like

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