Life Style

Netflix’s ‘Seaspiracy’ Is A Powerful Appetite Suppressant

I watched Netflix’s Seaspiracy right after eating a fish curry, which, in hindsight, wasn’t the wisest move. By the closing credits, I had given myself a psychosomatic stomach ache, as though my gut had been lined with mercury and microplastics (and to be fair, it probably is – I’m a big sushi fan). 

Since its release on the streaming giant, Seaspiracy has since been subject to criticisms, with some questioning the accuracy of the claims made, or even the tone of the documentary.  

Seaspiracy is, undoubtedly, a sensationalist film that takes inspiration from Michael Moore, utilizing heavily edited “gotcha” interviews that make powerful people look foolish, which is always fun. 

I must admit, I don’t particularly like watching documentaries that remind me of the relentless ecocide, exploitation, and trail of blood that seems to follow, well, just about every single purchase. But we all need to be aware of the reality behind the facade. As the saying goes, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, and Seaspiracy follows its protagonist (director Ali Tabrizi) through his journey of stomach-churning discovery.  

The documentary focuses on the relentless looting of the ocean, the disruption to ecosystems that follows, the almost incomprehensible amount of suffering in our supply chains, and the absurdity of focusing on plastic straws (fishing gear reportedly makes up the vast majority of large plastic pollution in the ocean).  

The documentary also makes the bold claim that if we don’t change our ways, Earth’s oceans will be, essentially, emptied by 2048. This is the claim that has received the most pushback.

Prof Callum Roberts, a marine conservationist at the University of Exeter who is quoted in the documentary, responded to the criticisms, stating

“It’s [Seaspiracy] not been made for its scientific rigour. It has used the techniques of film storytelling to make its case. My colleagues may rue the statistics, but the basic thrust of it is we are doing a huge amount of damage to the ocean and that’s true. At some point you run out. Whether it’s 2048 or 2079, the question is: ‘Is the trajectory in the wrong direction or the right direction?’”

At this point, most of us understand that our society is in the midst of a collective madness (and has been for quite some time), in which the endless wonder of the natural world is viewed as a mere resource, a number on a spreadsheet, something that exists only to be extracted in the name of profit, to line the pockets of a handful of billionaires. 

We all know this, and documentaries like Seaspiracy remind us of our folly, adding yet another guilt to the endless list of ecological anxieties. This isn’t always beneficial; it’s far too easy to be overwhelmed by the gargantuan scale of our planetary problems, our helplessness as individuals to do anything about it, the hopeless ineptitude of our leaders, and to simply sink into despair. Sometimes, I envy the blissful ignorance of climate change deniers – it must be wonderful to simply deny that these problems exist! 

Thankfully, the film ends on a (slightly) more optimistic note, offering plant-based seafood as a potential solution, which contains much of the nutrients, and none of the mercury. Of course, the systemic nature of the problem, along with the small, economically privileged percentage of the population who actually have the means to reject seafood as a source of protein, feels a bit like slapping a bandaid on a bullet wound.

But it’s better than ingesting a plateful of microplastics and contaminants. Seaspiracy’s greatest strength is its ability to induce raw, visceral revulsion, simply by highlighting the sorry state of the sea creatures that end up on our plates. 

A single documentary isn’t likely to spark global change, but consumer anger can be a powerful force – if there’s any justice in the world, “cancel culture” should come for the polluters and looters scraping the bottom of the sea beds, prioritizing profit over life itself.


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