Seaspiracy has left viewers horrified by showing the impact of the commercial fishing industry on our oceans – but the Netflix documentary has since faced controversy.
The filmmakers have even been accused of ‘bullying’ contributors and ‘cherry-picking’ moments from interviews.
The Ali and Lucy Tabrizi-made documentary seemed to leave no stone unturned as it laid out how humans use the ocean for gain, including commercial whaling, our use of plastic, fish boat slavery allegations and over-fishing.
In one particularly haunting scene, Ali headed to village Hvannasund, in the Faroe Islands, to witness a whaling hunt, left viewers in tears as they reacted to the moment the waters were turned bright red from the blood of the slain animals.
However, some of the claims made in the documentary have been challenged in the wake of its release, including those about sustainable fishing.
The documentary has also been accused of ‘misleading’ interviews, with one contributor saying her piece was taken out of context.
What is Seaspiracy about?
The official synopsis says that it ‘uncovers alarming global corruption’ (Picture: Ali Tabrizi)
The synopsis reads: ‘Passionate about ocean life, a filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species—and uncovers alarming global corruption.’
Ali Tabrizi says he began filming his documentary with the aim of uncovering the effect of plastics in the ocean, before he soon discovered a world of corruption and deceit within the commerical fishing industry, which was having a much more devasting effect on the water than our use of plastic straws ever could.
Many viewers have been shocked by the scenes, with celebrities like Bryan Adams and Anne-Marie also urging fans to watch the hard-hitting programme.
What have those involved said?
Ali Tabrizi starred in the documentary (Picture: Lucy Tabrizi)
One of the main allegations against the documentary is that views of people involved were misrepresented.
Professor Christina Hicks, who was featured in the programme, said: ‘Unnerving to discover your cameo in a film slamming an industry you love & have committed your career to.
‘I’ve alot [sic] to say about #seaspiracy- but won’t. Yes there are issues but also progress & fish remain critical to food & nutrition security in many vulnerable geographies.’
Sustainable fishing does exist and helps protect our oceans.
— Marine Stewardship Council (@MSCecolabel) March 26, 2021
The Plastic Pollution Coalition, which was also featured, claimed its staff had been ‘bullied’ by the filmmakers.
A statement on the organisation’s website reads: ‘We were excited to sit down with the filmmakers to talk about plastic pollution and what people can do to help.
‘Unfortunately, although the filmmakers said they were interested in the work of Plastic Pollution Coalition, when we answered the questions, they bullied our staff and cherry-picked seconds of our comments to support their own narrative.
‘Despite our efforts to provide documentation of the plastic pollution crisis and our work before, during, and after, they chose instead to grossly distort and mischaracterise our staff and organisation.’
What have other experts said?
Other organisations have also taken issue with claims made in Seaspiracy.
The film rejects the idea of sustainable fishing, and suggested that sustainable fishing certifications might not be all they appear to be.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), hit back at the claim, saying: ‘This is wrong. One of the amazing things about our oceans is that fish stocks can recover and replenish if they are managed carefully for the long-term.
‘Examples of where this has happened and stocks have come back from the brink include the Patagonian tooth fish in the Southern Oceans or the recovery of Namibian hake, after years of overfishing by foreign fleets, of the increase in some of our major tuna stocks globally.
‘What is even more amazing, is that if we take care of our fish stocks – they take care of us. Research shows that fish stocks that are well-managed and sustainable, are also more productive in the long-term, meaning there is more seafood for our growing global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050.’
The International Marine Mammal Project also issued a statement, taking issue with the documentary’s claims about dolphin-safe tuna.
‘The recent film Seaspiracy falsely claims that the dolphin-safe tuna program is a conspiracy to benefit the global fisheries industries,’ it reads. ‘Nothing could be further from the truth.
‘In fact, the dolphin-safe tuna program has provided and continues to provide massive benefits to dolphin populations around the world. Despite our efforts to provide documentation of this to the filmmakers, they chose instead to grossly distort and mischaracterise the program.’
David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project added: ‘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.’
Oceana, which was mentioned in the documentary, also hit back, saying it believes ‘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.’
What have other contributors said?
Some people are giving up eating seafood as a result of the documentary (Picture: Artgrid)
Some contributors have supported the documentary.
Environmental journalist George Monbiot hit back at the allegations, writing on Twitter: ‘Many of the attacks on Seaspiracy are themselves based on false claims, or false refutations of the statements the film makes. It’s a lot more rigorous than Cowspiracy, and stands up well to examination.
‘Above all, massive congrats to @iamalitabrizi and @seaspiracy for at last putting the massive issue of the harm done by the fishing industry on the map. It has been neglected by the media for far too long.’
Marine scientist Professor Callum Roberts, who also featured, has also supported the documentary on social media.
What has Seaspiracy said in response?
One of the filmmakers has responded (Picture: Netflix)
Mr Tabrizi has responded to the criticism in a statement, saying he approached the MSC for comment but they declined.
He added (via The Telegraph) of the ‘dolphin-safe’ labels: ‘The label does not say 95 per cent dolphin safe. It claims to be dolphin safe. In the words of Mark Palmer himself, “one dolphin and you’re out”. This wasn’t taken out of context.’
He added in response to Oceana that he did not expect people around the world facing poverty, hunger and malnutrition around the world to reduce or eliminate their fish consumption but that those people are not the ones looking at sustainability labels.
Seaspiracy is available to watch on Netflix.
Credit: Original article published here.