Seaspiracy Accused of Misrepresentation

Seaspiracy is a 90-minute Netflix documentary film released earlier this year. It sheds light on the environmental impact of fishing. Made by the team behind the award-winning 2014 film Cowspiracy, the film pours doubt on the idea of sustainable fishing. It shines a spotlight on the realities of the aquaculture industry. The film also introduces the concept of “blood shrimp” – seafood tainted with the abuse of human rights and slave labor.

The film has received heavy criticism, both positive and negative, for several claims. However, it has highly been scrutinized for one particular claim: the oceans will be empty by 2048.  

This shocking statement is based on a 2006 journal titled “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services,” written by Boris Worm and Reg Watson. In 2009, however, Worm came out and published another study in the journal Science. He stated that this new paper showed that our oceans are not a lost cause. He also said that his 2006 research is outdated and shouldn’t be used to reach conclusions today. Even though many people believe that the claim is false, the professor never actually explicitly said that his findings were incorrect.

Will the Oceans be Empty by 2048?

In an exclusive interview with Plant Based News, the directors of Seaspiracy, British filmmakers Ali and Lucy Tabrizi, responded to the criticism against the claim that the oceans will be empty by 2048 and argued that the 2006 study has already been discredited.  

“The study estimates that with current fishing trends – if they continue – we could see empty oceans, or commercially virtually empty oceans, by 2048,” Ali said. “And this is speculation. As with every [study] – there’s going to be a margin of error,” he added.

The duo believes that we must look at the overall trend rather than focusing on whether the claim will come true in 2048, 2050, or 2051. The real thing to note is that the trajectory shows that fish populations are decreasing rapidly worldwide. Ali believes that even though a few fish species are recovering because of the increased awareness regarding reduced fishing pressure, the overall trend is still going downwards.

“I believe the scientists put forward a statement saying that so long as we follow some sustainable measures – we’re not going to see empty oceans by 2048. I believe that might have been used to justify continuing fishing. But the thing is, that would be dependent on doing those sustainable measures. There’s no real evidence globally that we’re doing that,” Ali said.

The Ocean Cleanup

Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, primarily from rivers. And the plastic that’s afloat within the oceans isn’t going away by itself. To effectively solve the problem, we need to both turn off the tap and mop the floor at the same time.

Earlier this year, Coops Kicks and Brooklyn Entrepreneur, Elliot Cooper, Launched Sneaker Drive Fundraiser to Raise Money for The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization, is developing and scaling technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Our aim is to put ourselves out of business once the oceans are clean.

Abstaining from Consuming Seafood

Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, released an official statement after the release of Seaspiracy. This statement drastically changed people’s perception of the fishing industry.

Ali believes that in some places around the world, the oceans won’t be empty by 2048. The effects will come later. However, in some areas around the world, the oceans have already emptied and are no longer possible to catch fish because none is left anymore.

The statement argued that not consuming seafood is not a viable choice for those suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. However, Lucy disputed this claim. She said that we all need to be really careful, so we do not weaponize the poor and helpless people who depend on fish for their survival to justify our eating habits. She added that we have the privilege to choose not to and to choose something else quite comfortably.

“I think the people that are watching this film on Netflix and are going to these NGOs websites looking for how to eat sustainably. They’re not the people that are relying on this for sustenance, for survival,” she explained.

After Ocean’s statement, Ali responded, “We are not scientists nor did we claim to be. Despite there being some confusion about this particular projection, the overall state of fisheries is in severe decline.”

The Seaspiracy Petition

Just two weeks ago, Ali and Lucy created an online petition to help protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Their campaign garnered more than 100,000 signatures in just three days. Presently, the campaign has surpassed a staggering number of 490,000 signatures.

Continuing from the spotlight shed by Seaspiracy on the damaging effects created by industrial fishing, the petition asks to create more “no-catch” zones where fishing isn’t allowed.  If the petition is successful, at least 30% of the waters around the United Kingdom will have these newly established zones.

The petition says, “Unless we act now, we will live to see the death of the oceans. And, our children will never know the wonder and beauty of our once thriving blue planet. Seaspiracy has exposed the truth. But we can’t fix this on our own. Now we need action, and that’s where you come in. Together we can change this.”

Wrapping Up

Nobody really knows for sure what will happen when the year 2048 arrives but what we all know is that our marine life is in danger. Human consumption of seafood and the overall attitude of the aquaculture industry are causing a major decline in the fish population in our oceans.


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