Seaspiracy: Viewers react to controversial Netflix documentary about global fishing industry

Documentary sets out to investigate the damage fishing does to the environment

Roisin O'Connor
Tuesday 30 March 2021 12:24 BST
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Viewers are reacting to Netflix’s new original documentary Seaspiracy, which sets out to explore the damage being done to marine life such as sharks, dolphins and whales by the global fishing industry.

It features interviews with figures from the marine conservation organisation, Sea Shepherd, as well as journalist, author and environmentalist George Monbiot.

During the programme, which is presented by 27-year-old filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, a number of statistics highlight how the fishing industries have a huge impact on the level of pollution in our oceans.

Seaspiracy claims that 46 per cent of the waste floating in the “The Great Pacific garbage patch” – a gyre of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean – comes from discarded fishing nets.

A number of whales that have washed up in the UK, from Yorkshire to Scotland, have been found over the years either tangled in fishing nets or with fishing gear in their stomachs.

Released on the streaming service over the weekend, Seaspiracy is already causing controversy and dividing opinion on social media.

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Some viewers have claimed it has persuaded them to stop eating fish altogether, while others have accused it of perpetuating a “white saviour complex”.

One of the experts who appeared in the documentary has since tweeted her discomfort about her appearance, claiming she was not aware of the subject of the documentary.

Professor Christina Hicks, an environmental studies scientist, tweeted: “Unnerving to discover your cameo in a film slamming an industry you love and have committed your career to. I’ve a lot to say about Seaspiracy but won’t.”

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She added: “Yes there are issues but also progress and fish remain critical to food and nutrition security in many vulnerable geographies.”

Monbiot, meanwhile, tweeted: “I watched Seaspiracy on Netflix last night. It’s a brilliant expose of the greatest threat to marine life: fishing.”

“if you care about climate change, pollution, plastic production, human rights, animals, fossil fuels, corruption, corporate greed, indigenous peoples, deadly diseases, oil spills, or the survival of the planet, you need to watch Seaspiracy on Netflix,” one viewer tweeted.

“The only ethical thing to do is to stop eating fish,” another claimed after watching the documentary.

Wildlife photographer Richard Dowling tweeted: “I'm not ashamed to say I just sat and cried. I don't even eat seafood and I cried! Please watch this with an open mind and be willing to challenge the societal norms that you follow when you put your fork to your mouth.”

However, George Hoppit, whose Twitter bio describes him as a PhD student investigating climate change, commented: “The white saviour and questionable science of #Seaspiracy does not help its conservation goal. Engaging constructively with those involved in fisheries is the way forward, not blanket statements saying the entire industry is wrong. We can do so much better.”

Others on Twitter also commented about feeling uncomfortable with the “white saviour” undertones they felt were present in the documentary.

Seaspiracy is available on Netflix now.

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