Some thoughts on the Netflix doc Seaspiracy...
I spend a lot more time around fish than most. A passion for fish and anything to do with the sea has lead me to all corners of the planet working amongst fishing communities who depend on fish and fishing as their way of life.
This passion has led me to quit my job in 2020 (just before COVID!) to launch Urchin Frozen Seafood: putting my knowledge and experience to use, and bring people the freshest fish - from suppliers who care - without any excuse for wasting it.
And so here I am…Urchin goes live the same month as Netflix drops their headline-grabbing documentary, Seaspiracy.
But I’m still here, and it doesn't change anything…here's why…
An important debate - with a fanciful conclusion - that is fundamentally flawed…
Ali Tabrizi’s Seaspiracy should be commended on bringing extremely important issues to light, generating public dialogue around the cumulative affect of industrial fishing practices on the health of our oceans. This discussion and awareness is something that I welcome with open arms. It's a conversation very close to my heart.
The documentary covers some of the biggest challenges facing the seafood industry but also paints an incomplete picture, focusing on some of the most extreme practices and featuring a lot of very emotive footage.
Seaspiracy's conclusion that the solution is to stop eating fish is fundamentally flawed. Expecting global fishing or fish consumption to stop is just not a practical or realistic outcome. Fishing communities and in some cases, whole economies, depend on fishing and fish is a staple food to billions of people.
So what is the solution?
There is a lot of room for improvement, of that there's no question. However, so much progress in stock recovery and global fishery and aquaculture management has been made in the last few decades by the hard work and passion of men and women who catch, process, manage and rely on fishing. This progress has tangible results and is driven in part by incentivising market demand for sustainable fish.
put simply; without demand there is no incentive to implement sustainable improvements for fishery management practices. A point that is rejected and quickly glossed over in the documentary.
There is a new generation of visionaries in today’s seafood industry for who sustainability is a foundation belief, rather than a novel concept. I strongly believe that the solution to many of the challenges we face lies in the choices we make as consumers.
Developed nations tend have the luxury of choice and therefore the responsibility to make the right choice. Countless fisheries around the world are currently improving the standard of their fishery management to comply with the sustainability and ethical demands and gain access to lucrative developed market economies. This demand-driven fishery improvement is a much more realistic and applicable approach than expecting fishing and fish consumption to stop.
One of the worst outcomes of this well-meaning and evocative documentary would be a reduction or collapse in demand for sustainably caught fish. My hope is that the points raised will raise awareness and create further scrutiny and understanding of what responsible fishery standards are and champion those who are doing things right.
My approach with Urchin is to do just that: be honest, transparent and work with fisheries who are taking positive steps towards a sustainable future.
Demand sustainable fish, don’t turn your back on it!