You’re probably reading this because you haven’t watched Seaspiracy, so full disclaimer: this article contains spoilers. If you’re not planning to watch the documentary, then keep reading!
The reason Seaspiracy is all the rage right now is because of the shocking facts it unveiled to the public. Released by Netflix and produced by Kip Anderson, Seaspiracy revolves around raising awareness on environmental pollution – specifically, as you may have guessed, ocean pollution.
Over the course of 89 minutes, numerous factors contributing to ocean pollution are discussed and dissected, so let’s dive into the details:
Eliminating Plastic Straws Is Not The Answer
- Most conversations about ocean pollution centre around eliminating plastic straws.
- However, plastic straws actually amount to less than 1% of all the plastic entering or in the ocean.
Eliminating Fishing Gear Is The Answer
- Commercial fishing is the leading cause of plastic within the ocean.
- 70% of macroplastic found at sea comprises of fishing gear.
- When specifically analysing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 46% of it consists of fishing nets.
- Bottom trawling (dragging large nets along the ocean floor to catch fish) deforests roughly 3.9 billion acres of seafloor each year – the equivalent of deforesting 4,316 soccer fields every minute.
Sustainable Fishing Is Not Actually Sustainable
- Some tuna cans are labelled as ‘Dolphin Safe’ by the Earth Island Institute (E.I.I).
- Yet, an employee from E.I.I disclosed how: “Once the fishermen are out there in the ocean, how do we know what they’re doing?”.
- That same employee then highlighted how although E.I.I sends observers on board fishing vessels – observers can be bribed.
- Furthermore, fisheries can have high levels of bycatch and still earn the Marine Stewardship Council’s ‘Certified Sustainable’ stamp.
- For example: a representative for Sea Shepherd (an organisation supposedly campaigning to protect marine wildlife) shared how he witnessed 45 dolphins being killed to catch just eight tuna.
The Major and Main Issue: Bycatch
- What exactly is bycatch? It’s a term used to refer to other species unintentionally being caught in the process of trying to catch one particular species.
- Although fishermen throw bycatch back into the ocean, that bycatch is often injured, dying, or already dead.
- To be specific: every year, industrial fishing kills more than 300,000 cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, and whales) as a result of bycatch.
- Commercial fishing kills around 30,000 sharks per hour as a result of bycatch – in comparison, around ten humans are killed by sharks yearly.
- Annually, an estimated 50 million sharks become bycatch.
- Both dolphins and sharks are crucial to the ecosystem of the ocean – their death creates a ripple effect down the entire food chain.
- It’s estimated that 250,000 sea turtles in America become bycatch per annum.
Oh And Human Slavery Still Exists
- There have been reports of slave labor within the seafood industry in 47 countries.
- An investigative report in 2014 by The Guardian discovered how major retailers in the U.K and U.S.A were linked to illegal fishing operations known to not only enslave workers but kill workers, too.
- Even if not enslaved, more than 24,000 fishery workers die on the job per year due to dangerous working conditions.
- To add to that, inhumane territory disputes between rival vessels is becoming more common due to overfishing depleting the ocean and fishing operations needing to compete for fewer fish.
How You Can Help
Feeling shook? That’s more than understandable, but here’s some good news: you can help. Seriously. By boycotting the commercial fishing industry, you basically vote with your dollar as the saying goes!
Of course, don’t stop, drop, and immediately roll into vegetarianism or veganism – take baby steps. You can start by incorporating ‘Fishless Fridays’ into your week then gradually add more ‘fishless’ days into your calendar. Alternatively, you can choose to purchase only from local fishermen that you know are not adding to the problem. Simply raising awareness on the data provided by Seaspiracy will help as well – even more so if you sign petitions or create your own.
Start where you can and take it from there.
You got this!