Seaspiracy: Why the Netflix documentary everyone is talking about will change the way you think about eating fish for ever

Its message is making people give up eating fish, but critics argue that Netflix hit Seaspiracy doesn’t stand up to a fact check. Is the documentary worth watching - and is it accurate?

By Alex Fletcher Published: 14 September 2021 - 5.14pm
Netflix Documentary

Nature documentaries

Not since Tiger King burst into our lives in 2020 has a documentary series taken off quite like Netflix film Seaspiracy.

Created by filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, who previously made Cowspiracy, this 90-minute film about the commercial fishing industry has caught the imagination of viewers around the world.

With many viewers vowing to “stop eating fish” after witnessing the environmental devastation and damage to marine life caused by human behaviour, Seaspiracy feels like a starting point for new discussions about how we treat the wonders of ocean life.

Tabrizi doesn’t hold back in the documentary and inevitably there has been lots of reaction from people shown in the film, groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council and even marine ecologists.

However, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on regarding Seaspiracy, the film definitely achieves its goal of stirring a visceral reaction and shining a light on the way seafood makes it ways onto our plates.

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Seaspiracy - Rated and reviewed

Rotten Tomatoes Fan Score: 92%

IMDB rating: 8.5/10

More shows like this: Cowspiracy on Netflix

The critics said: “It's hard to stomach... But if there's one thing Seaspiracy doesn't want it's for us to switch off and give up. There is hope.” (Charlotte Cripps, The Independent)

What will be interesting to see is whether Tabrizi’s radical and single-minded approach does more than just turn a few viewers off eating fish – or whether it can reshape a whole industry.

Here is why everyone is talking about Netflix’s Seaspiracy…

Bycatch, ‘dolphin safe’ tuna and bottom trawling - Shocking footage exposed

Seaspiracy on Netflix Lucy Tabrizi

The biggest talking points among viewers of the film have been around some of the revelations on the techniques used in our oceans and the marketing strategies used to make us all feel happier about our fish suppers.

The film alleges that the ‘dolphin safe’ label we all search for on tuna isn’t accurate, throws out some shocking numbers about the number of whales, sea turtles and dolphins killed as bycatch (when creatures not being fished for are killed by the fishing industry) and drills home the ecological damage being created by bottom trawling.

The numbers and allegations will be debated by the fishing industry, but regardless, the film is a bold conversation starter about what we want the future for our oceans to be.

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Ali Tabrizi has no fear

The fishing industry under the mircoscope in Seaspiracy Netflix

The filmmaker has been heavily criticised for his one-eyed approach to the subject, but what can’t be argued against is his bravery and passion for ocean life.

Not even his biggest critics could argue that there aren’t some areas of the fishing industry engaging in shocking techniques and practices.

Millions of viewers will tune into David Attenborough’s stunning documentary films every year and observe the wonders of planet earth, but critics of those landmark nature films often accuse the makers of not doing enough to shake us into action. It's argued they fail to drill home the environmental devastation being created every day by humans.

Does Tabrizi go too far the other way? Perhaps. But as long as you view Seaspiracy with a critical lens, viewers can still appreciate his efforts and arguments.

Is Seaspiracy accurate? Checking the facts

Tabrizi’s argument that sustainable fishing is a myth has found him facing a barrage of criticism from all quarters and plenty of fact-checking articles have put his allegations under the microscope.

The Marine Stewardship Council have insisted “fish stocks can recover and replenish if they are managed carefully” and have pointed to examples with Patagonian tooth fish and Namibian hake.

Meanwhile, Dr Bryce Stewart, a marine ecologist and fisheries biologist, has spoken out on Twitter, accusing the film of “misleading” viewers.

“It regularly exaggerates and makes links where there aren’t any," she wrote.

The debate looks likely to rage on, but Tabrizi won’t be too disappointed by that – he faces scarier moments in the film than Twitter fact-checks.

When watching the film, it is worth remembering that the argument in reality is far from black and white. However, in the case of Seaspiracy, it feels like this is the first time we’re seeing the other side of the debate and for many viewers the impact will be long-lasting.

Seaspiracy is available to watch now on Netflix.

Netflix is now included in our Entertainment TV packs

You can now enjoy hit shows such as Squid Game, Sex Education, Bridgerton, The Crown and more when you take a flexible BT TV package.