This Netflix documentary riled a lot of people.
On one hand, you have members of the public and watching in shock horror of the reality of the situation in regards to fishing and the industry.
On the other you have companies responding to defend themselves and marine biologists weighing in to debunk some of the misinformation that was included in the documentary.
And whilst I get that the prediction that fish being extinct from the sea by 2048 and the source used for that number was debunked, the intention was in the shock factor.
Misleading? Perhaps, but humans like predicting the future and we are also terrible at it.
I haven’t eaten fish in 7 years after turning vegetarian so I watched it more out of curiosity than looking for it to change my thinking about my diet.
I however, learnt a lot, and for all the defence and debunking that the documentary will come under scrutiny for, I have to credit Ali Tabrizi for having the courage to tackle a daunting subject, one in which consumers for the most part would rather avoid the reality.
There are revelations where people watching have a right to be angry, here are some that stuck with me:
‘Dolphin safe’ being a completely meaningless and disingenuous message for consumers.
Bycatch being far too unregulated.
Shark fin soup and cutting shark fins being a completely pointless and cruel business.
Media hysteria for plastic straws that ultimately accounts for 0.03% of all plastic in the ocean and the blind eye that has been given to plastic pollution caused by fishing. (One criticism I’ve seen about the documentary is that it downplays consumer habits making a difference, I don’t agree, it was much needed relativism).
Human rights abuse and slavery of poor people in the fish trade.
Developed countries fishing in a way that leads to a domino effect of poverty and health crisis in under developed countries.
Salmon fishing being outright gross.
No proper definition on sustainable fishing. Once again the documentary was criticised for saying there was no such thing as sustainable fishing but it’s a bit understandable for Ali to conclude that that is the case when no one was willing to give him a straight answer. I imagine there is sustainable fishing but I’m none the wiser for what that actually looks like.
I’m sure there’s more but it’s 90 intense minutes and a lot to take in. The documentary is designed to provoke and when there’s not much of a mainstream discussion point that has been established, that’s what it has done so my belief is that it contributes to the narrative in a very positive way.
Final thoughts. The documentary steers towards a conclusion where a plant based diet is recommended but it’s not done in the way that some critics have pointed out. For me, I felt it was more of a personal story and what Ali thought was best for him. In no way, do I believe it imposes the notion that vegan diets are a viable alternative for everyone.
As a vegetarian, I acknowledge it as a personal choice and whilst I encourage it, I don’t expect it to be right for everyone. I do however, think that the western and developed world relies far too heavily on meat.
Ultimately, we are amidst a climate and environmental crisis that I’ve grown up in. I’m sick of people denying it, I’m sick of corporations and politicians turning a blind eye to the facts whilst playing lip service and going down the same consumerist and capitalist path of unsustainably. Our generation and future generations have to live through this and clean up this mess.
Things have to change and they are, but they need to change faster.
And to make it happen, you have to hyperbolise the worse case scenarios, you have to piss people off and you have to make a ruckus.
Ali and his team did just that.
Make of it what you will, and if the fishing industry comes under fire and sees a decline in demand, the world will be a bit better for it.