These 10 fish facts will make you forsake seafood forever
I knew I had to watch Sea piracy When my pescatarian friend told me he would never eat fish again. A little more context: this man didn’t just eat fish, he caught it and smoked it himself. It was more than food, it was a hobby. As a vegan, I was happy Sea piracy did his job for him but wasn’t particularly excited to see him for himself. I assumed it would be a 90 minute retelling that confirmed my beliefs and told me what I already knew. I was so wrong about the entire film grabbing my very limited attention span and even tearing me apart (and I’m not crying). Everyone – vegan or whatever – can learn something from this film. Here’s a preview that you will love.
1. Fresh new host offers a compelling new perspective
Some people loved seeing Kip Andersen in his previous environmental film. Cow piracywhile others could use a little less kip. If you lean towards the camp with less kip, you will be relieved Sea piracy features a new narrator – a British guy named Ali Tabrizi. The narrative arc is similar: Tabrizi has a passion for the environment, discovers that fishing is destroying it, uncovers shocking insights into the industry, interviews powerful companies that refuse to speak to him, and ends with a message of empowerment and Hope. This formula works, and even got my sushi snob roommate to question his own eating habits.
2. Plastic is bad. Like whales full of plastic
When it comes to plastic pollution, I could do better. Much better. I order a lot of vegan takeaway food and make full use of the plastic bags when I pick my products in the supermarket. After seeing one whale carcass after another, I realized how dangerous my casualness can be. Granted, I dispose of my plastic in a trash can – never on the beach – but I can’t get those poor plastic whales and marine animals out of my head.
3. It is not okay to fish for non-endangered species
As vegans, we can all agree that it is not okay to kill endangered or non-endangered animals. My friend’s friend – let’s call him Bryan – justified his deep sea fishing hobby by fishing only for non-endangered animals. Here’s the thing – fishing leads to plastic pollution. There are millions (not excessive) of commercial fishing boats in the world, and their discarded fishing nets are piling up in our oceans. So if you give yourself a pat on the back for using a paper straw while enjoying sushi, you may want to reconsider your strategy (cough, cough, my roommate).
4. Let’s talk about bycatch
Here’s another clue to Bryan: fishing creates terrible bycatch. Dolphins, sharks, turtles, as you call them, fishing nets do not discriminate. Humans kill 11,000 to 30,000 sharks every hour, and while some are earmarked for shark fin soup (still not OK), most of these sharks are “accidentally” killed thanks to bycatch. The film makes a strong case for shedding fish. Lots of people are against shark fin soup – it’s wasteful, inhuman, and frankly boring – but they’re okay with eating fish. However, the demand for fish leads to the killing of sharks due to bycatch. The circle closes. There is no conscious consumer who eats fish. Case closed.
5. Sealife does more for the climate than the Amazon
You need to take a closer look at the movie, but due to the vastness of marine life, these animals have a greater impact on our climate than the Amazon rainforest. People rant about the burning of the Amazon, but what really helps our planet stay afloat are the aquatic species they love to eat. Chew on it.
6. Dolphins deserve better
At the beginning of the film, Tabrizi and his girlfriend went to this coastal city in Japan to document the killing of dolphins. They are constantly monitored by the local authorities. They were even warned that if caught filming, they could be shot. Despite the dangers, they managed to capture one of the film’s most nerve-wracking scenes – the systematic slaughter of dolphins. What really breaks your heart is not watching the water turn red, but rather knowing that these dolphins are essentially being killed for pest control. Dolphins are seen as competition to fishing vessels and for some reason people believe that they deserve the fish more, so eliminating the competition.
7. If you are working against slaves, you should be against fishing
Apparently the world is not over of slave labor. Do you remember we mentioned these millions of fishing vessels? Well, there is strength in numbers and it is impossible to regulate working conditions on the high seas. The documentary interviews anonymous fishermen who have survived really appalling conditions. If they found out, they feared for their lives.
8. Like land animals, labels mean nothing
We know that “cage-free” and “free range” don’t carry much weight when it comes to farm animal welfare. The same goes for fish. “Dolphin-proof” labels are about as reliable as the legally rejected slogan “Happy Cows Are From California”. Notes are forged, lies are taken at face value, and dolphin-safe or sustainably caught labels are distributed as easily as ketchup in a fast food store. You can’t justify fish with a meaningless label.
9. Farmed fish are no better
According to Sea piracy, 50 percent of the world’s seafood comes from farmed fish. Unfortunately, it’s really not as sustainable as the industry would like it to be. As gross as it sounds, farmed fish are fed dehydrated fish. The amount of fish needed to make fish feed exceeds the total production of fish killed for human consumption. Essentially, we breed fish to feed fish, not humans. According to the experts, farmed fishing is “biological nonsense”.
10. A whale is a fish is a dog is a chicken
The concept of speciesism – or loving some animals but eating others – is taken up by a Scottish whaler. He clearly states that those who consume fish and other animals have no right to criticize the slaughter of whales – an animal is an animal. In his eyes, killing a whale is better than killing 2,000 chickens. For him, a life is a life, and his whaling activities actually save animals. In theory it’s true. But as vegans we have an advantage. Fair warning: the Scottish whaling scene towards the end of the film is extremely difficult to see. It broke me I blame the perfectly timed, emotional music, but I also admit that I have a soul and seeing the water turn bright red should crush anyone with a touch of compassion. As a vegan who often doesn’t think about animals, he’s just going about my business, it was a much-needed reality check. Whether we eat animals or not, we all need an awakening at times. That does it.
Sea piracy is available to stream on Netflix.
Tanya Flink is a digital editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast who lives in Orange County, CA.