You won’t believe number 6!
As a scuba diver, I have always loved the sea. Seeing the fishes up close and personal, discovering caves, experiencing their world down there… I can’t put it into words just how amazing it is. That is why I relate to Ali Tabrizi, director of Seaspiracy, who did everything he knew he can do to protect the ocean.
Unfortunately, we still know very little. Thankfully, Seaspiracy gives us a lot of insights into the reality of our depleting oceans and what we can do.
Here are the top 6 lessons that shocked me from Seaspiracy Documentary:
1. The ocean is a big toxic plastic soup.
Ali’s journey in Seaspiracy started with the issue of whales washing up on the beaches that were filled with plastic. Humans have made a huge impact on the seas, because we have thrown 150 million tons of plastic into the ocean, which turns into microplastic that is eaten by fish. This actually means that when we eat fish, we are also consuming plastic already.
2. Whales, sharks, and dolphins help to keep the entire ocean alive.
Sharks, whales, and dolphins fertilize phytoplankton which absorbs 4x more carbon dioxide than forests and generates 85% of the air we breathe. Sadly, there are many being killed — sometimes because of plastic but sometimes because of humans. Fishing kills 30,000 sharks every hour.
[Read: Why I Went Organic]
3. Fishing nets are the main cause of plastic in the ocean, not plastic straws.
Most of the campaigns on saving the ocean is about NOT using single-use plastic such as plastic straws, bags, bottles, or containers. I myself have been doing my best to carry my own steel straw but surprisingly, only 0.03% of the plastics in the ocean come from plastic straws. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, 46% of plastics actually come from fishing nets, ropes, buoys, and other things used by the fishing industry.
4. Fish are vital to keep corals alive.
Animal excrete is food for the corals and when we take the fish, we also kill the corals. Around 2.3 trillion fish are killed every year—that is 5 million every single minute. Another cause of seafloor damage comes from trawling, the most destructive form of fishing.
5. If we want to solve climate change, we need to leave the ocean alone.
Imagine that the Earth is like a spaceship, and the engineers who keep it going are the marine plants.
To maintain the integrity of ocean systems, it is important for the marine plants, which store up to 20x more carbon than forests and 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide, to be left alone.
6. We can help save the ocean by reducing or eliminating our intake of fish.
It is a misconception that omega 3 fatty acids only come from fish, but they are actually from algae. So what do we get from eating fish? According to Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, fish, unfortunately, contains toxic heavy metals, dioxins, mercury, PCBs, cholesterol, and antibiotics due to the unregulated fishing industry. For consumers to have access to clean, nutritious fish, there should be clearer policies and strict regulations on the industry.
We need to respect what we have and protect what remains. I like the wise words of Sylvia Earle from an interview that it has to start with someone and that not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something.
With great learning (power) comes great responsibility. Now that we have learned these things about the ocean and the fishing industry, we should strive to do our parts in saving the sea, one small step at a time. For starters, we can all start by being mindful of where we buy our fish (make sure they are organic!), and support local fishermen.
As for me, I have started eliminating my fish and meat intake and I’m slowly shifting to a vegetarian diet. This is my personal choice due to all my learnings about the meat and seafood industry, as well as my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. It is different for each person and I highly believe that we should respect each other’s food choices and of course, always consult with nutritionists and dieticians first to educate ourselves on the nutrition and supplements that we need to have a healthy, balanced diet.
Seaspiracy is a 2021 documentary film on Netflix about the environmental impact of fishing directed by and starring Ali Tabrizi, a British filmmaker.