Five solutions to the problems raised by Seaspiracy
Seaspiracy showed us many problems. But what solutions exist?
Netflix’s Seaspiracy shows us that millions of animals living in the seas and oceans are suffering from problematic human interaction with aquatic life. Fish, mammals, sea birds, and other aquatic life are being killed in huge numbers. This is destroying the biodiversity that existed in the marine ecosystem and threatening its collapse.
Seaspiracy has shown us all the issues and problems surrounding marine life, now it is on us to find the solutions to these problems. Fortunately, many of the solutions already exist. But they need our support to have the impact required to save marine life everywhere.
We need to take action for the sake of the sea life that are too often forgotten. Our planet cannot survive without a healthy existence of the oceans and seas. The human species cannot survive without the presence of marine life.
Ali Tabrizi has raised several sensitive issues in the Seaspiracy documentary. So now, let's look into them and explore the possible solutions for each key problems mentioned in Seaspiracy.
Problem #1: Plastic waste
Seaspiracy shows that the dumping of plastic waste materials in our oceans and seas is one of the major contributing factors to the destruction of marine life.
The documentary exposes massive plastic wastes being dumped in the oceans and seas every single minute. The plastic interactions with aquatic life are deadly as it often gets mistaken for food, eaten by dolphins and whales, and often leads to their deaths.
One of the significant contributors to the huge amount of plastic waste in our oceans is the commercial fishing industry. 'Ghost fishing gear' - nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishers - is one major plastic pollutant. Fishing lines and other materials are found discarded throughout the seas and oceans. This contributes for up to 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Solution: Reduce your plastic usage
In the documentary, Ali tells us that he has tried to fight this; he has signed petitions and subscribed to ocean newsletters. He went as far as becoming a 'plastic police', donated to every ocean charity, attended beach clean-ups, and carried reusable cutlery and a drink bottle everywhere he went. His primary mission was to stop people from using plastic material.
However, one individual’s actions didn’t solve the problem. But many individuals’ actions can. The best solution to this problem is for each person to decide not to use plastic. We can save many whales from washing up on the shores with their bellies full of plastic. You can also buy products made from recycled fishing nets, such as eco-friendly swimwear, backpacks and skateboards.
Plastic is known to alter the oceans' acidity, which then affects the ocean's ability to separate carbon. We should switch to reusable materials and develop the habit of carrying our own bottles, straws, and cutlery when traveling.
From reusable water bottles to bringing your own bag to the supermarket, we can all make a real difference. Check out this handy guide on how to use less plastic. And don’t forget, doing something imperfectly is much better than not doing it at all.
Problem #2: Eating fish
It may be unthinkable to stop eating fish altogether. This is one of the most delicious sources of proteins ever known and a huge part of many world cuisines.
Mark Palmer from the Earth Island Institute proves himself to be very cunning. His explanation on why his organisation's logo, "Dolphin Safe", found on the sides of Tuna cans, basically holds no meaning. His response is, "The world is a difficult place sometimes".
Statistically speaking, about 300,000 dolphins and whales are “accidentally” killed annually during the fishing expeditions by fishers. The regular overfishing and slaughter of dolphins in Japan may have a more devastating impact on the ecosystem than deforestation has.
Farmed fish are no better. They're fed on wild-caught fish, and when Tabrizi visits a Scottish farm undercover he is met with an awful stench. The salmon are lice-infested and have infectious diseases, including chlamydia.
It is clear from the graphs used in the documentary that marine ecosystems will collapse by the time we get to 2050 with the current rate of overfishing by humans in the world's oceans and seas.
Consult the MCS’s Good Fish Guide and it seems like choosing the most sustainable fish (green) and avoiding the worst (red) requires a marine biology degree. That’s because it’s not just the species that’s important; you need to know where and how the fish is caught. So we wrote a simple guide for which fish is more sustainable.
Solution: Fish Swaps
Here are some simple fish swaps you can make if you don't want to completely stop eating fish. It might be imperfect, but as the saying goes "we don't need a handful of people being sustainable perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly".
Cod -> Hake
UK stocks of cod are doing badly, but in Iceland and the Northeast Arctic they are at sustainable levels.
Swap cod for hake, now a great sustainable choice.
Tuna -> Mackerel
Sustainability depends on the species, location and fishing methods.
Swap tuna for handline-caught mackerel (UK-caught preferably).
Prawns -> Mussels/Oysters
Prawns can be sustainable depending on the species and where and how they were caught or farmed. Choose organic when possible.
Swap prawns for for rope-grown mussels or farmed oysters, which don’t need any feed or chemicals and get all they need from the sea.
Salmon -> Char/Trout
Wild Atlantic salmon is not doing well and most farmed salmon needs improving. Organic and Scottish ASC-certified farmed salmon is the better choice.
Swap salmon for Farmed Arctic char, ideally from the UK, or farmed rainbow trout.
Solution: Fish alternatives
You can interchange your sources of protein. Several tasty options will help us preserve the fish in our oceans and make it a reality, the myth of sustainable fishing. The vegan tuna, for example, is a delicacy by Good Catch that you can find in most Tesco stores near you and the taste is very close to the real thing.
Cell-based fish is another exciting trend that is picking up and is worth your try. This method makes use of the cells of animals to produce the protein without the animal itself. BlueNalu in San Diego is working on the creation of fish from cells. It is still working progress but watch out for it, for soon, it will be in the market.
Vegan meal planning
Seaspiracy’s producer, Kip Andersen, is a prominent vegan who made the earlier documentary Cowspiracy, and has set up a vegan meal planning subscription service that is linked from the Seaspiracy website. However, critics and even the filmmaker, Ali Tabrizi, agree that expecting the entire world to stop eating fish is unrealistic, especially in places and cultures that depend on fish for food and jobs. That doesn't mean that you can't be one of the people to make the positive change.
Problem #3: Climate change
With all the hunting of large and small sea creatures, it is suggested that none will survive to the future and the entire marine ecosystem will collapse by the end of this century. While hunting has an impact, the main reason the marine ecosystem is predicted to collapse is due to climate change. Particularly ocean acidification from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere due to human-caused pollution and emissions.
By the time we get to 2050 the world's oceans and seas may be entirely depleted. The marine ecosystem is likely to collapse if human behaviour does not change.
Solution: Support climate projects with ZeroSmart
ZeroSmart carries out both long-term and immediate projects that remove at least 13.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per adult to help protect the environment. CO2 emissions negatively impact the environment. As a UK citizen, you can become a positive influence on the environment by signing up with ZeroSmart in short, quick steps.
Some of the projects we support, such as our Reforestation project in Madagascar, have a direct positive impact on marine life. Mangroves trees provide ideal breeding grounds for much of the world's fish, shrimp, crabs, and other shellfish. Many fish species, such as barracuda, tarpon, and snook, find shelter among the mangrove roots as juveniles, head out to forage in the seagrass beds as they grow, and move into the open ocean as adults.
Problem #4: Human slavery
The coast of Thailand is home to nearly 50,000 boats. Seaspiracy comes with one other shocking revelation of the acts of human trafficking and slavery, going as far as involving young children. Tabrizi narrates stories of bodies being dumped in the oceans and some being kept in freezers. These enslaved citizens are overworked on the boats as fishermen in the coastal regions of Thailand.
Many of the worst violations that have been documented occurred in east Asian waters, with much of the produce caught during this trade ending up in Western supermarkets.
A 2014 investigation in The Guardian found prawns sold in Tesco, Aldi and other supermarkets linked to trafficking, slavery and extreme violence in fishing boats off the coast of Thailand. But the issue has also been found among African and Asian crew on domestic vessels in British and Irish fisheries, as well as in the waters of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Russia and South Africa, and New Zealand.
Online databases such as the Seafood Slavery Risk Tool and the Global Slavery Index can give consumers information about which countries of origin are at particularly high risk for the use of forced labour.
Solution: Support social projects against slavery
Thailand's government has not done much to end human slavery in this century. This is not only an inhumane act but also the fact that it stretches to affect marine life. You can support organisations like Amnesty International and the Environmental Justice Foundation, which are toiling to stop human trafficking on fishing boats. You should use your vote to support candidates that push for governments to stop the inhumane act of human enslavement and trafficking.
United Nations’ 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. Support projects which align themselves with the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth and Goal 10: Reduced inequalities, in order to help eliminate human slavery worldwide. You should make sure that all climate projects you support clearly outline their social impact as well as their environmental impact.
Problem #5: Aquariums and marine parks
Many children dream of visiting the aquariums and the marine parks to see the beauties of the dolphins performing tricks. However, there has been a growing backlash against these venues, especially after the documentary Blackfish in 2013. The documentary follows the life of captured orcas, after the story of orca Tilikum, who passed away in 2017, following more than two decades of suffering in captivity.
In 2019, the government of Japan announced the resumption of commercial whale hunting in the Antarctic Ocean. Tokyo says that they're going to kill whales despite there being an international ban on the act. Commercial whaling has been banned worldwide since 1986 and is still in place today.
Solution: Avoid marine parks
The marine parks inspire the Taiji dolphin hunt in Japan. Ali Tabrizi features this in Seaspiracy, revealing that dolphins are trapped and sold for up to $100,000. To show your love for these beautiful sea creatures, the best way is by not visiting the marine parks. Since the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld has witnessed a steady reduction in its ticket sales. We can save marine life by staying away from marine parks and educating children on the importance of marine animals’ natural habitat.
Being a world citizen, it should be of interest to know if the people you vote for in the next election have it in their minds to take care of the environment and marine life for us. As a voter, it pays at the end of the day to keep interested in the candidates' environmental policies. Watch out for specific ocean conservation efforts. Your vote matters a lot as a good citizen interested in conserving the environment.
Seaspiracy is a great eye-opener to the destructions that are taking place in our seas and oceans. Let us also do our part in helping to solve this puzzle and save marine life.
If you want to learn more about how you can help marine life recover, support anti-slavery projects and make a real positive difference on climate change then you should sign up to the ZeroSmart email. Our community email regularly shares simple, actionable, solutions that you can do to help the environment.