The latest Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, is a smash hit. Getting big streaming figures and starting numerous online debates. The hard-hitting 90-minute film is made by the same team who made Cowspiracy, including Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company. It was written and presented by 27-year-old Ali Tabrizi from Kent, United Kingdom.
The shocking footage of plastic pollution and dead sea creatures has shocked viewers and, as usual, the celebrity class has been quick to jump on the virtue-signalling bandwagon. Canadian singer Bryan Adams told his fans to stop eating fish as a result of watching Seaspiracy.
However, the UK Daily Telegraph now reports that all is not as it seems, and the documentary is under fire from scientists and marine experts for “cherry-picking” evidence, misrepresenting their views, quoting them out of context, and twisting the facts.
Mark Palmer is an executive with the international organization responsible for the Dolphin Safe tuna label. He was asked if he could guarantee no dolphins were killed by fisheries carrying his label.
“I answered there are no guarantees in life but that drastically reducing the number of vessels intentionally chasing and netting dolphins as well as other regulations in place, that the number of dolphins that are killed is very low.
The film took my statement out of context to suggest that there is no oversight and we don’t know whether dolphins are being killed. That is not true.”
Environmental scientist Christina Hicks appeared in the Seaspiracy film and tweeted that she, too, was misrepresented:
“Unnerving to discover your cameo in a film slamming an industry you love and have committed your career to. I have a lot to say about #seaspiracy- but won’t. Yes, there are issues but also progress and fish remain critical to food and nutrition security in many vulnerable geographies.”
The documentary also tried to present, as fact, that sustainable fishing does not exist and that the stability ratings of agencies like the Marine Stewardship Council are of little value. The MSC has issued a statement attacking this position:
“Sustainable fishing does exist and helps protect our oceans.
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 toothfish in the Southern Oceans or the recovery of Namibian hake, after years of overfishing by foreign fleets, or the increase in some of our major tuna stocks globally.
And 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″.
Making powerful enemies, another organization fighting back at the positions represented in the documentary is Oceana, an NGO that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiance, Carrie Symonds, consults for:
“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.”
Mr Tabrizi has started responding to these critics, claiming he asked MSC for a statement but they declined. He also circled back around to the Dolphin Safe issue:
“The label does not say 95 percent 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.”
The filmmaker defended his position against the Oceana statement saying he was not referring to those in poverty, experiencing hunger and malnutrition as being expected to lower fish consumption, stating:
“…those people are not the ones looking at sustainability labels.”
This has the potential to run and run as Netflix currently has no plans to withdraw Seaspiracy or to include warnings about fact-checking.