What does Seaspiracy get wrong?

Armando Gimenez “22

In one of Netflix’s hottest new films, Seaspiracy, an ocean enthusiast named Ali Tabrizi embarks on a search for truth regarding the hidden and dark aspects of the fishing economy, as well as pollution. Within the span of an hour and a half, Ali jumps from the massacre of whales and dolphins  to the destruction of life caused by mass fishing and slavery in foreign countries. Ali’s argument is supported by his journey through the fishing industry and his interviews with “experts” in various fields. As Ali uncovers truths around the world, the audience is shown horrific images and shocking “data,” questioning the actions of corporations and researchers around the world, but issues arise as Ali relies more on exaggeration and focuses more on theories instead of sticking to the facts. 

Ali uses dramatic narrative techniques to persuade his audience with unbelievable claims, attempting to create an unrealistic overarching theory about the industry as a whole. He seemingly appears to have an honest search for truth, but this is quickly proven false by his unwillingness to interview a variety of people and sources. He even goes as far as to pick and choose specific quotes from the people he interviews, absent of context, to further these theories. One of the film’s biggest errors is the claim that self-sustainable fisheries don’t exist. Despite Ali’s reasoning, this is a blatant lie that demeans all of the work and research that hundreds of people have conducted to further a moral environmental cause. The film’s numerous exaggerations can lead to some serious damage and dangerous lack of trust in actual scientific findings. The film’s grossly excessive use of scientific skepticism only furthers the spread and acceptance of ignorance, opposing even the original beliefs Ali attempted to uphold. 

Despite Ali’s poor use of data and abuses of information, he does manage to uncover startling facts that would caution anyone about the marine and fishing industry. Some discoveries of his remain true in the face of scrutiny however. Commercial fishing’s threat to marine life, the abundant use of slavery in the industry, and fishing nets that make up a significant amount of plastic pollution in the ocean are all shown and backed efficiently as the audience is shown the horrors of a hidden world. The film questions numerous things and Ali’s personal experiences in exploring the truth cannot be neglected as completely false. Despite the mistakes and abuses Ali commits, the film still stands at the side of the ocean, attempting to prevent the atrocities that plague it. 

Many critics of the film also come to claim it acts as vegan propaganda, but that claim too lacks significant evidence. Ali does not push veganism as a major theme throughout the film, and he even expresses some appreciation for seafood. His plea for veganism is only birthed due to his horrific personal experiences. Ali tries to produce a compromise by pointing to future options such as artificial fish. Ali even proclaims that veganism is ineffective when it comes to preserving ocean life, since the majority of the damage to the ocean occurs at a larger national and industrial scale, outside of the consumers control. I urge you to watch Seaspiracy and develop your own thoughts, based on solid research and a strong sense of objectivity. Seaspiracy is a fantastic film that pulls you in at every step, but I plead that you remain wary of the blatant misconceptions.