Since the release of the Netflix documentary Seaspriacy, we’ve received hundreds of requests for an Ocean Generation perspective, so after careful reflection and internal discussions, I thought I’d share my own personal take on the movie.

 

I know the highly sensationalist reportage style has been quite divisive within the environmental community. Some of the facts presented have created controversial debates among a wide community – a community that went beyond the Ocean scientists and conservationists, to reach people who may otherwise not have taken as much interest. Whilst it is not the style of science-based film-making we have become known for at Ocean Generation, I do recognise the positive impact a more disruptive film can sometimes bring. 

As an Ocean conservationist, I applaud the film’s producers for their work in raising awareness of Ocean threats, and in particular over-fishing, to an audience who may be unaware of the gravity of the issues at hand.   The film clearly reminds us all of the pivotal role the Ocean plays in sustaining life on our planet, the fact it is both the world’s principal carbon sink and producer of oxygen, and the sensitivity of our whole ecosystem to changes in Ocean life systems.

The harrowing scenes of Ocean floor deforestation through industrial trawling, the indiscriminate harvesting of marine life and senseless actions practiced by the shark-fin industry are difficult to watch. But these stories need to be told again and again, until something changes. 

Whilst watching the film, I did feel a growing divergence from the film’s makers in one important area. Hope. We at Ocean Generation are cautiously optimistic. We believe in the positive power of human spirit and in the true concept of Sustainability.  

The power in behaviour change 

We see an Ocean freed from all human threats within a generation. And for that to happen, every single individual’s action matters. However small.  Earlier this year we relaunched from Plastic Oceans to Ocean Generation precisely because we recognised the need to stand up to a broader range of Ocean threats. But we shall never forget where we came from with our own ‘A Plastic Oceans’ documentary.  And we will never underestimate the power of environmental champions in schools and communities across the world fighting to stop every plastic straw and water bottle reaching the Ocean. We have witnessed the ripple effect that happens when you start with something relevant to most people’s daily lives – like a plastic straw - that anyone can participate in, and then facilitate that to grow into other, more impactful acts and campaigning.

On this note, Seaspiracy’s crusade to get everyone to ‘stop eating fish’ may offer a solution. But this is arguably an oversimplistic solution to push on a global scale. Stop eating fish would be ideal to repopulate the species and protect marine environments, but it is unrealistic. It disregards the social and economic situations of millions of people who rely on fish as their main source of protein and income. According to FAO estimates, over half of the fish caught for human consumption is caught by small-scale fisheries. This means local, community-based fisheries are the ones providing food security and employment for people in developing countries according to UN World Ocean Assessment 2016. Much of the documentary was shown through the lens of the Western world. The idea of bringing together a global inclusive movement at Ocean Generation means we focus on the importance of giving a voice to all communities impacted by Ocean threats.

Ocean Generation believes everyone should be informed of their options, be aware of the impacts of these and then make choices that make sense to their local, personal and environmental situations. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. 

A final note

So lets redouble our efforts together. Yes, of course we must fight the destruction of whole swaths of Ocean life from overfishing. But we must also continue to provide the 8 billion ordinary people everywhere the chance to learn how our own daily actions impact the Ocean.  There is no doubt that the Ocean continues to be systematically threatened both from on land and from the sea.