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The Inertia

Back in March, the documentary Seaspiracy premiered and quickly trended up the list of Netflix’s most streamed films. Personally, I was excited to watch it even though I knew the content would be heavy.

But why excited?

Like many of us, I’ve known things are bad out at sea. From raw sewage spilling into the ocean to floating garbage patches, nuclear disasters to oil spills, overfishing to mass death events of whales and dolphins, you don’t need an advanced degree to realize mankind often takes salt water for granted. What had me excited was the potential for the film to make a big splash…and then give us an ongoing and comprehensive plan of action.

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The film certainly made a splash and countless people posted as much. Now what? Do we just carry on as if nothing is amiss or perhaps, as the film suggests, eliminate all seafood consumption? Ideally, the answer to both of those is a hard no. Therein lies the need for solutions that cut between extremes. The oceans are in trouble. In my view, Seaspiracy isn’t a perfect film. The information presented isn’t totally accurate, it portrays various good people and organizations in a bad light, and falls immensely short of providing any realistic solution short of praying all 7.9 billion people on Earth become vegans after watching.

For all the rave reviews and trending on social media, it can be difficult to unpack all the information the film presented. But since its release, there have been many voices challenging the narrative. Just Google “Seaspiracy Fact Check” and you’ll see endless results of publications that dove into the claims made in Seaspiracy to separate valuable facts from sensationalized half-truths.

One interesting aspect, particularly for Americans, is that while the filmmakers go after established ocean-focused groups all over the world and wage an all-out war on the dangers of overfishing, they don’t highlight the status of U.S. fisheries. California is home to some of the strictest regulations (across all industries) and so it begs the question, what is happening here?

What about the Northeast? For those who care to look for themselves, there is an organization called Greenwave enjoying success in supporting a new era of the “blue-green economy” via regenerative ocean farming. If you want to really dive in, I suggest reading Eat Like A Fish, which is the story of Greenwave’s founder, Bren Smith. Smith is a former commercial fisherman turned ocean farmer who is now leading the charge to combat climate change by harnessing the natural power of the oceans.

My favorite part of Bren’s story is his emphasis on viewing the ocean as our greatest resource — one that can be tapped for regenerative ocean farming and, in turn, creating truly sustainable seafood while addressing huge climate problems. Personally, I think that is a much more optimistic approach than treating the ocean as a defenseless victim of our human society.

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If Seaspiracy hit the nail on the head with one thing it’s that there is much work to be done in protecting our oceans. There is no silver bullet that will right all of mankind’s wrongs. And addressing oceanic and overall planetary health is a massive undertaking that will shape our future.

With all that said, discussion around the film has focused heavily on its merits. And while I’m curious to hear what others think about that, I think the real conversation we need to have — the one that needs to continue long after Seaspiracy stops trending — is what we really believe can be done to take care of our oceans moving forward.

Questions for discussion:

~For those who are well versed in ocean health, fishing practices, marine biology, etc: What was the most intriguing or powerful moment of the film and why?

~Again, for those in the know, what do you do with the information? Is there anything else you could change? Are there any solutions that come to mind?

~For those of you who were unaware of the scope of the problem, how do you feel? Is it enough to change your habits? Is it enough to demand change?

~For everyone, how complicit do you feel these organizations were in the grand scheme of things? Was it effective for the narrator to stick it to them, or was he just interested in getting a sensational sound bite or a scandalous piece of footage?

~Marine conservation areas sound great but are they doing enough? Given our high-tech capabilities, isn’t there more we could do to ensure compliance?

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~If you could see two changes instigated “overnight”, what would they be?

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