Socialist Worker

Seaspiracy—is there something fishy behind ocean pollution?

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2749

The Seaspiracy poster—is the world caught in a fishing industry plot?

The Seaspiracy poster—is the world caught in a fishing industry plot?


Seaspiracy has a great deal to say about capitalism’s damage of our oceans from pollution and species destruction.

Director and narrator Ali Tabrizi tells of how he learned about whale and dolphin hunting—and how these animals end up in marine parks.

He unpacks campaigns against plastic straws and finds 46 percent of ocean plastic pollution comes from discarded industrial fishing gear.

He discovers more about tuna, shark finning and by-catch—unwanted or unprofitable species—from industrial fishing.

He believes there is a conspiracy of silence from mainstream environmental groups on the destruction caused by this fishing. Tabrizi also says the relationship between the sustainable seafood badging organisations and the fishing industry is corrupt.

The film points out the vast amounts of by-catch in commercial fisheries that are badged as sustainable.

It is a serious point. What does “sustainable” mean when fisheries are “managed” yet global fish stocks are still declining?

Heading for extinction?
Heading for extinction?
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Activists, journalists and scientists are interviewed.

There’s important detail about how fish farming causes environmental destruction and disease, and about slavery at sea.

Industrial fishing in Thailand, Indonesia and Korea for example, relies on workers hired through multiple agencies that avoid responsibility for unpaid wages and safety. Workers can be held for years in filthy, dangerous boats lacking basic sanitation and safety equipment.

These experiences are horrifying. The men Tabrizi filmed in a halfway house for escaped slaves were at sea from six to ten years, suffering terrible abuse.

But their stories don’t need all the fake drama the film uses to claim that Tabrizi and his companions were at great personal risk to tell this story.

The film’s limitation is that its only solution to these problems is to boycott fish, even though billions of people depend on it to survive.

It doesn’t see how plastic pollution, industrial fishing, fish farming, slavery, illegal fishing and all the other issues here are linked by capitalism.

It’s not a conspiracy—it’s profit and the system it drives.

Seaspiracy is available now on Netflix

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