There’s been a lot of talk about Seaspiracy, a new Netflix documentary, where stories behind the industrial fishing industry are exposed. The documentary is about for example the plastic soup, which is around 50 % caused by fishing. What also came to light, was the huge amount of bycatch that is created due to fishing. This is, among other things, a reason why big predators like sharks are going extinct because of humankind. As a GSS student, I am quite aware of for instance the pressure that the livestock industry puts on the environment, but I never knew fishing was that harmful to the environment. It may sound a bit weird, but after the documentary, I was really overwhelmed by all the facts. However, I learned a lot by watching this documentary.
Therefore, I wanted to share my key takeaways from the documentary :
- If the oceans die, we die: Oceans play an essential role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and releasing oxygen for us to breathe. This cycle can only function correctly if the oceans are healthy. One of the key ingredients of a healthy ocean is poop. For example, whales poop provides nutrients for phytoplankton, and this absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.
- Reforesting efforts must include sea forests: The ocean is Earth’s largest carbon sink. Many people think of trees when talking about absorbing carbon dioxide (me as well), but the oceans are actually one of the most efficient ecosystems at locking in carbon.
- Regarding plastic, the biggest risk to the ocean is fishing: I think we all try to use a paper/reusable straw, and this will have an effect. However, the plastic soup is mostly caused by fishing material like nets, lines, pots, and traps.
- Fish feel pain and have families, friends, and personalities: If I was to stand for a cow and a fish, I would have more sympathy for the cow. Because of Seaspiracy, I learned fish do feel pain, have complex social structures, and even have preferred friends. Scientist Jonathan Balcome points out that fish have nervous systems, consciousness, and are very able to feel an array of emotions, as well as the ability to suffer.
I am quite happy this documentary was produced. It made me reconsider my eating patterns, and I think it had a positive impact on a lot of people. I never knew fishing was so harmful to the environment, and how important the oceans are. I do think some aspects of the movie are lightly one-sided, but the message of the documentary is really good and makes people think about their ecological footprint. Even friends of mine that are not actively considering their sustainable lifestyle send me a message about how this documentary was an eye-opener. I hope you liked the documentary as much as I did, and even you didn’t watch it already, I really recommend you to watch it :)