‘Seaspiracy’ points out problems in fishing industry

Abandoned fishing nets kill and injure more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles a year, according to Greenpeace.

Turbulent is the word New York Times critic Natalia Winkelman uses to qualify the top-10 ranked Netflix original film “Seaspiracy.”

According to The Guardian, the film sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species and “pours doubt on the idea of sustainable fishing, shines a spotlight on the aquaculture industry and introduces the notion of ‘blood shrimp,’ seafood tainted with slave labour and human rights abuses.”

Despite controversies about misrepresentations, overstatements and misguided connections, the documentary takes us on a journey of discovery, exposing real current threats to the ocean and marine life.

The threats range from the regular plastic and micro-plastic pollution to ghost fishing gear and bottom trawling. It also covers important issues involving farm fishing and topics such as overfishing, by-catches, misleading labeling programs as well as the brutality of whaling, shark finning and dolphin hunting. It is a lot to cover in such a short time, but the film shows the impact of those activities on the environment, wildlife and human life.

Where do we start?

Unfortunately, the plastic and micro-plastic issues are quite familiar to us already and ways to reduce and divert plastic waste have been discussed here many times. Just two months ago, Recycleware, one of Recycle Brevard’s many projects, was explained. If you would like to start recycling your plastic toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes and dental floss containers, check out the June edition of Beyond the Curb at vieravoice.com.

Another plastic threat widely discussed is ghost fishing gear, represented by any lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear ghostgear.org, which becomes a death trap for wildlife.

According to Greenpeace, “abandoned fishing nets kill and injure more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles a year” and those nets “make up 86 percent of the large plastics in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” while fishing equipment in general “makes up more than 85 percent of the plastic pollution on sea mounts, ocean ridges and the sea floor.”

It is a serious problem caused by overcrowded fisheries, overfishing and illegal or unregulated fishing. The Greenpeace report from 2019 explains. Severe weather and snags beneath the surface also might cause fishing gear to be lost or left behind.

Working to minimize the problem, Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) coordinates projects with the fishing industry, private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Those projects involve gear removal, recycling, marking and data collection.

These are great projects, but what can folks do to help?

If you fish, make sure to never leave gear behind. Recycle Brevard can help you create a portable bin for your fishing line through the Connect to Help Protect program at recyclebrevard.org/p/programs.html.

If you are a diver, you can participate in removal projects such as Project AWARE (projectaware.org) and Dive Against Debris (padi.com/aware/dive-against-debris).

Not a diver? No problem! You still can help by using the Ghost Gear Reporter app to report lost fishing gear of any kind that you might come across. You will not only be helping to collect data but also passing on information to local conservation groups that can recover the gear.

Maybe this is the kind of information Seaspiracy missed the opportunity to share.

Regardless, Seaspiracy is worth watching. It is a chance to learn about practices that should not be the norm.

We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better. — Maya Angelou

We can definitely do better.