Seaspiracy (2021) Movie Script

When ships are
in the middle of the ocean...
...where problems occur...
they can throw you overboard
into the sea.
It is dangerous for you
to make this documentary.
There are many risks.
If you're scared of dying, go home.
My name is Ali.
That's me.
And for as long as I can remember,
I've been fascinated
with dolphins and whales.
My obsession with the ocean, though,
was really born
out of watching documentaries
from people like Jacques Cousteau,
David Attenborough, and Sylvia Earle.
Watching their films opened up
a whole new world for me,
filled with an abundance of beauty,
color, and life.
I would dream of one day exploring
our thriving seas
just like they did.
Capturing images
of all the extraordinary wildlife
that lived beneath the waves.
After finishing college,
I'd been working on other documentaries,
but at 22, I was ready
to embark on making my own film
on just how incredible the oceans were.
It's home for up to 80%
of all life on Earth.
And with the vast majorityof our seas
still unexplored till this day,
for me, the oceans were
an indestructible source of inspiration.
But not long into starting the project,
this romantic vision that I always had
of the ocean completely changed.
...beached whale found
off the country's coast earlier this week
had more than 30 plastic bags
inside its stomach.
It's the 29th whale of this
species to become stranded across Europe
in the last two weeks.
This represents the largest
stranding episode in the last 100 years.
- ...washed up on a beach...
- In the UK, 4 others died
in a number of beachings nearby
in recent days...
When news started coming in
of whales washing up on beaches,
even along the Southeast coast
of England where I lived,
I was forced to confront
a side of the story I never knew.
A story of just how huge our impact
on the seas had become.
These animals washing up
with their stomachs filled with plastic
was devastating not only
because of their incredible intelligence,
but because they even help
keep the entire ocean alive.
When dolphins and whales
return to the surface to breathe,
they fertilize tiny marine plants
in the ocean called phytoplankton,
which every year absorb four times
the amount of carbon dioxide
than the Amazon rain forest does,
and generates up to 85%
of the oxygen we breathe.
So in a world concerned with carbon
and climate change,
protecting these animals
meant protecting the entire planet.
The way I saw it was
if dolphins and whales die,
the ocean dies.
And if the ocean dies, so do we.
But with so many whales washing up dead,
the future looked bleak.
Plastic was invading every last corner
of the world's seas,
with huge floating garbage patches
accumulating in the middle of the ocean,
like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
In fact, today,
the equivalent
of a garbage truckload of plastic
is dumped in the sea every single minute,
joining the over 150 million tons
already floating there.
But this plastic breaks down into smaller
and smaller pieces known as microplastics,
which now outnumber the stars
in the Milky Way galaxy
by at least 500 times,
and is seeping into every living creature
in the ocean.
Essentially, our oceans
have turned into a toxic plastic soup.
And worst of all,
I was a massive part of the problem.
Although I signed petitions
and subscribed to ocean newsletters,
I did nothing to actually protect
what I loved.
So from then on,
I did what any self-respecting
Jacques Cousteau wannabe would do.
I became the plastic police.
I donated to every ocean charity I could.
Attended beach cleanups,
and carried reusable cutlery
and a drink bottle wherever I went.
My mission was simple.
Stop the world from using
plastic toothbrushes,
straws, cutlery, bottles, bags,
or anything single-use plastic.
And I was gonna stop at nothing
until my message was heard.
Seaside Fish and Chips.
Yeah, hi. My name's Ali.
I'm justwondering
if you'd swap out your plastic straws
'cause it's killing whales
and baby sea turtles.
But that didn't stop me
from tackling this plague of plastic.
So, this is my first beach.
In just one hour,
I've been able to collect
three whole bags full of plastic trash.
There's takeaway food packaging,
there's cutlery, there's straws,
there's everything.
I even found Nemo.
Onto the next beach.
But no matter what beach I went to
or how much I collected,
there was always more plastic,
and more animals washing up.
After months of this,
and as I began to wonder if this really
was the best way to save marine life,
I came across this.
Japan has confirmed it will resume
commercial whale hunting,
and is withdrawing from
the International Whaling Commission.
The country's whaling fleet
set sail for the Antarctic last Tuesday.
Tokyo says it plans to kill
despite a worldwide ban.
So, this is the news
I woke up to today.
The Japanese government want to
resume whaling in the Antarctic again.
I knew that dolphins and whales
were dying accidentally from plastic,
but I never dreamed
that they'd be targeted on purpose
by an industry I thought
only existed in the history books.
I did some research and found there's been
an international whaling ban since 1986.
However, several countries have operated
under the radar for years,
most notoriously, though, is Japan.
Logistically, it was extremely challenging
to film or do anything
about the whaling in Antarctica.
But I found there was one place
in the south of Japan
where this industry could still be seen
operating from the coast,
in a place called Taiji,
where each year over 700 dolphins
and small whales are herded into a cove
for slaughter.
I wanted to find out
just how big of a threat
Japan's whaling practices were
compared to plastic.
So I set up a meeting
with one of the few activists
who'd been involved in this issue
for years, a guy named Ric O'Barry.
The Japanese government
go through a lot of trouble
to make sure
that people don't know about this.
If you went there,
and you didn't know what you were doing,
you could get arrested,
and you could be in jail a very long time.
Because they're trying
to get rid of people
who are opposed to their war on dolphins.
When you first show up in Taiji,
immediately, the police are on you.
They're at your hotel.
They're following you everywhere you go.
You got the Yakuza,
you got the right wing,
you got the government, the fishermen,
you got everybody against you.
The room is bugged,
the telephone is bugged.
The television
is actually photographing you
while you're in your room.
So you ask what, how...
What happens when you go to Taiji?
Just know that all of those people
are watching you,
and they are trying to figure out,
"How do we take these people out?"
But if it's so risky to go,
and there are other issues
affecting the entire ocean,
like plastic washing up everywhere,
then why go to Taiji?
Showing up in Taiji with a camera
is extremely important.
If we can't fix this,
what are you talking about,
saving the ocean?
How can you do that?
You can't even fix this.
This is the size of a football field.
My head was still
filled with questions,
but with the dolphin hunt just starting,
I knew that figuring out
what was going on in Taiji
would give me a better understanding
of the bigger picture
of how to save the ocean.
Either I stayed home picking up trash
on beaches all day,
or take a risk and find out
if there was a bigger threat to the sea.
So I dropped all my other projects,
packed my camera bags,
convinced my partner Lucy to join me,
and with the mission to expose
what was truly happening to our oceans,
got the next flight out to Japan.
Where are you going today?
Oh, we just arrived.
We're just visiting the area.
- Holiday?
- Holiday. Yeah.
Drive safe.
Thank you.
What the hell?
From that point on,
we had an entourage of police,
secret service, undercover cops,
and the coast guard
following us everywhere.
Is it the police?
Yeah, they're out there.
Let's go out the back.
So, arrived in Taiji,
and first thing in the morning,
decided to head to the harbor.
Pretty quickly,
boats start heading out to sea.
There was about 13 of them in total,
and they were gone for several hours.
When they returned,
they returned in formation
and were billowing black smoke
from their exhaust pipes.
And banging on poles in the water
to try and scare a huge pod of dolphins
closer to land,
and then maneuver them into a cove
where I'm standing above right now.
It's impossible to see exactly
what's going on.
There's a lot of splashing.
There's people down there
wrestling these dolphins.
Whatever is going on,
they don't want us filming.
Police are trying to search for us.
It's really tough conditions
to try and film this stuff.
The Taiji dolphin drives
continue to be supported,
underwritten, funded by
the marine park entertainment industry.
A live dolphin really is very expensive.
And so,
the big ticket is catching
young dolphins and whales,
and selling them to marine parks.
What captivity in concrete tanks does
is it takes away everything
that makes life worth living for them.
Everything they need to do, they can't do.
And everything they don't want to do,
they're forced to do.
I had enjoyed going to these
marine parks my whole life,
but never even questioned how the animals
got there in the first place.
But now, knowing it was connected
to industries like whaling
made me pledge
to never go to these parks again.
But every day in Taiji
was like Groundhog Day,
witnessing boats go out,
dolphins driven in,
and the inevitable capture
and mass slaughter of the pod
again, and again, and again.
Before we knew it,
we'd been in Taiji for over a week,
but still couldn't figure out
why on Earth they were killing them,
since dead dolphins don't perform tricks.
Lucy, show me again
what you just found out.
I've just been doing the maths
from the data online,
and from 2000 to 2015,
for every one dolphin captured,
at least 12 more were killed.
It doesn't make any sense.
I don't know why they're killing
all these dolphins.
So, if the annual Taiji dolphin drive
is fueled by the captivity industry,
it begs the question,
"Why kill the dolphins
that aren't selected for captivity?"
There's very little reason
to slaughter them.
There's no market for dolphin meat.
Why not just release them
back into the sea?
And the answer to that question
is pest control.
The fishermen view the dolphins
as competition.
They feel that they eat too many fish,
and if they get rid of the dolphins,
there will be more fish available
for them to catch.
Essentially, the slaughter
of these dolphins is a reaction
to the overfishing
that's happening here in Taiji.
If this was true, that dolphins were
being blamed for the overfishing,
then boycotting marine parks
wasn't gonna stop this.
So to find out more,
we decided to visit a local fishing port
just a stone's throw from Taiji.
However, upon arrival, we quickly learned
this wasn't just any fishing port.
Ali. Ali, what is it?
This is just tuna.
This is the tuna industry.
We had just stumbled across one
of the largest tuna ports in the world,
which landed bluefin tuna,
the most expensive fish on the planet.
Just one of these fish sold
in Tokyo's fish market
for over three million dollars.
I had read about these fish.
They were like the cheetahs of the ocean,
and can accelerate faster than a Ferrari.
But due to high prices, the only direction
they were accelerating in
was into extinction.
Today, less than 3%
of the species remain.
They were once thriving just decades ago.
It's not just bluefin though,
it's all tuna.
There's everything here.
This is sold around the world.
This is a $42-billion-a-year industry.
And it's at threat from overfishing.
Of course they're gonna
blame the dolphins.
The excuse of killing dolphins
for the crime of eating too many fish
was a lie.
In reality,
what they were doing was killing dolphins
as a scapegoat for the overfishing.
That way,
they can continue participating
in the multibillion-dollar tuna industry,
and wash off
any ecological responsibility.
I learned one of
the world's largest tuna companies
belonged to Mitsubishi,
who control 40%
of the world's endangered bluefin.
Since they were based in Japan,
we surprised them
by showing up at their head office.
I was wondering
if we could do a quick interview.
We have questions about why your company
is wiping out an endangered species,
and how that's connected
to killing dolphins.
- Our company refused, so...
- Yeah.
Your company refuses all interviews?
Yes, all interviews.
We're asked to turn our cameras off,
and leave immediately.
Back at the fishing port,
I noticed that tuna weren't the only
highly-prized species they were landing.
Sharks were everywhere,
and they were all having their fins
sliced off.
Turn off the video!
- Camera shut!
- Why don't you want me filming?
The shark-finning industry
is a multi-billion dollar industry
and is oftentimes
heavily criminally involved
and Mafia-esque run.
They don't want people
with cameras sniffing around
because they don't wanna get exposed
for all of the shady things that they do.
So sharks around the world
are being killed for their fins.
These fins are being shipped to Asia,
and predominantly China,
for shark fin soup,
which is held as a status symbol.
It has no nutritional benefits,
it really doesn't taste like much,
and it can cost anywhere upwards
of $100 a bowl.
Seeing so many sharks finned,
and being kicked out of the port
just for filming,
only made me want to learn more.
Since we had discovered all we could
about dolphin hunting in Taiji,
we decided to follow the shark story
to try and understand what impact
this industry was having
on the world's oceans.
Just a hop over the ocean from Japan
is Hong Kong,
otherwise known as Shark Fin City.
We arrived to find streets
filled with shark fins,
and huge quantities being offloaded
from trucks on every corner.
We tried to film the fins up close,
but were met
with the same response as before.
Go, go! No, no!
We can't film?
Are you gonna hit me with a chair?
All right, we're going.
- No photography?
- No.
- Why? Why you are filming?
- Huh?
Why you are taking the photo?
You didn't get any permission.
Delete the photo.
Delete first.
Hey, hey, hey!
Filming in Shark Fin City
was proving harder than we thought.
So in order to see these fins up close,
we got ourselves some spy cameras.
I used to be scared of sharks as a kid.
People should not be afraid
of having sharks in the ocean.
They should be afraid
of not having sharks in the ocean.
The sharks keep the oceans healthy.
They keep the fish stocks healthy.
They keep the ecosystems alive.
They keep the coral reefs alive.
If we don't have these sharks,
if these sharks
get finned into extinction,
the ocean's gonna turn into a swamp.
And guess who's gonna die next?
And a lot of people would think I'd
be the last person to stand up for sharks.
I was attacked by a shark
after serving 12 years in the military.
I was on a counter-terrorism exercise
in Sydney Harbor,
and a bull shark attacked me.
But knowledge dispels fear.
And through necessity,
I learned about the plight of sharks
through working
within the shark filming industry
over the last decade.
It turned out sharks
were just as important
as dolphins and whales
in keeping the ocean alive.
But for the first time ever,
sharks were in danger of going extinct
because of us.
Like bluefin tuna,
shark populations were crashing,
with species like thresher, bull,
and hammerhead sharks
losing up to 80 to 99%
of their populations
in just the last few decades.
And it was causing other unlikely species
to die out with them.
Over the period
that we've been monitoring seabirds,
since about 1950,
the abundance of seabirds
has declined by about 70%.
And if you look at how they feed,
you can understand why.
And what they do is
they kind of lightly dip down to the sea,
and they pick little fish off the surface.
And where seabirds are doing their best
is where predatory fish are driving shoals
of tiny bait fish to the surface,
where the terns can get them.
When you overfish the predators,
they no longer drive the shoals
to the surface,
so there's not enough food for the birds.
So the loss of fish
across the world's oceans is bringing us
into direct competition with whales,
dolphins, seabirds, for prey,
and that's causing their populations
to decline even further.
Sharks are apex predators.
So they're at the very, very top
of the food chain.
They are what I call level one.
They eat level two.
They eat the poor,
the sick, the weak of level two.
But when you take away level one,
level two then overpopulates.
And level two eats level three.
So they'll actually overpopulate.
They'll wipe out their food supply,
which is level three.
And then, level two's got nothing to eat.
So level two then disappears,
and they go extinct.
And it carries on down the food chain,
down to the smallest organisms.
So when we talk about saving sharks
and how important they are,
even though people
don't necessarily like them,
they are that key
to the survival of our oceans.
Around the world, on average,
sharks kill about ten people per year.
Now, comparatively speaking,
we kill 11,000 to 30,000 sharks per hour.
The crazy thing is,
almost half of those sharks killed
are killed as bycatch
from commercial fishing fleets.
And they're discarded as waste
back into the ocean.
Bycatch was
all the other marine life
caught while trying to catch
a target species.
And I was shocked to learn
that every year,
at least 50 million sharks
are caught in nets this way,
side by side with our favorite seafood.
Studies estimate that up to 40%
of all marine life caught
gets thrown right back overboard
as bycatch,
and most of them die
before they even hit the water.
So stopping shark fin soup
is only half the picture.
The problem is
that eating fish is just as bad,
if not worse
than the shark finning industry,
because the shark finning industry
is strictly held in Asia,
whereas everyone around the world
is eating fish.
I refer to bycatch
as the invisible victims
of the fishing industry.
The industry will call bycatch
"accidental take,"
but there's nothing accidental
about bycatch.
It's factored into the economics
of fishing.
In those fisheries where we have
a better understanding of bycatch,
the numbers can be alarming.
And so to give you one example,
in Iceland, in a one-month fishery,
that fishery caught
269 harbor porpoises,
something like 900 seals
of four different species,
and 5,000 seabirds.
And that's just one little fishery
in one little part of Iceland.
Taken across the world's oceans,
the amount of bycatch is huge.
What made matters worse
was that this destructive fishery
had been awardedfor its
sustainable fishing practices for years
by the very label I had trusted
whenever I bought seafood,
the MSC blue tick.
I contacted the charity who hand out
the labels about doing an interview,
but I received no reply.
In the meantime,
I discovered there were already over
a hundred different fishing regulations
on paper
for reducing this kind of bycatch.
The problem was,
with over four and a half million
commercial fishing vessels at sea,
it was a problem governments
had practically given up on enforcing.
Apparently, though,
there was one vigilante organization
who are filling this law enforcement void.
A volunteer-run group
who sail around the world
and into harm's way
in order to protect marine life
and bring ocean criminals to justice.
The marine conservation group
Sea Shepherd,
who have even sunk 13 whaling
and illegal fishing ships,
and rammed a further five,
all without harming a single person.
And by getting up close and personal
with the industries that are
destroying the ocean,
they have made some shocking discoveries.
One of the recent discoveries
that Sea Shepherd has made
is that on the Atlantic French coast
up to 10,000 dolphins
are being killed every year by bycatch.
So this is ten times more
than dolphins being killed in Taiji,
and no one knew about it.
This has been going on
for at least 30 years
because the French government has been
very effective in hiding the problem.
People love dolphins,
and most of them have no idea
that when they eat fish,
they're actually putting a death sentence
on the dolphin population in France.
One of the most shocking things
that most people don't realize
is that the greatest threat to whales
and dolphins is commercial fishing.
Over 300,000 whales and dolphins
are killed every single year
as bycatch of industrial fishing.
Well, what about sustainable labels,
things like Dolphin Safe tuna?
For those of us who spend as much time
at sea as I do,
uh, we realized that labels often obscure
what's really happening at sea.
We caught tuna fishing vessels
who had slaughtered 45 dolphins
to catch eight tunas.
And that fishing vessel was
working for Dolphin Safe canned tuna.
I had learned
some shocking things so far,
but this was just unbelievable.
I couldn't verify these numbers online,
and I was skeptical
to Sea Shepherd's claim
against the organization.
To find out for sure, I decided to meet
with the organization behind the label,
the Earth Island Institute.
What's the maximum number of dolphins
that can be killed in a net
before the tuna is no longer Dolphin Safe?
Zero. One.
So, one dolphin and, you know, you're out.
So can you guarantee
that every can is dolphin-safe?
Nope. Hm-mm.
Nobody can.
Once you're out there in the ocean,
how do you know what they're doing?
Uh, we have observers on board.
Uh, the observers can be bribed.
Wait, um...
Are your observers out at sea often?
On a regular basis, no. Mm-mm.
There's nobody out there witnessing
whether they kill dolphins or not.
So how do you know it's dolphin-safe,
especially when they're paying you
to license your Dolphin Safe label?
What they're doing
is taking the captain's word for it.
They look at the captain's log.
He says, "I didn't kill any dolphins."
"Oh, okay. Here's your label."
"That'll cost you blah-blah-blah."
So just...
just so I get my head around this,
um, you have observers,
but they're rarely there,
and they can be bribed.
And so you can't guarantee
that Dolphin Safe tuna is dolphin-safe?
That's certainly true
in terms of, uh, how the system works.
So, what are people meant to do now
if they want to protect dolphins?
What we tell them is
to buy Dolphin Safe tuna,
tuna that's verified
by Earth Island Institute
to be dolphin-safe.
But it's not guaranteed
to be dolphin-safe.
Uh, nothing can guarantee
it's dolphin-safe.
Um, but if it's not guaranteed
to be dolphin-safe,
why is it called Dolphin Safe?
We can pretty well guarantee
it's dolphin-safe, yeah.
But you just told me
it's not guaranteed.
It's not guaranteed
in the same way that, uh...
The worldis a difficult place sometimes.
Conflict of interest?
Yeah, I think it's a conflict of interest.
I also think it's fraud.
So, I was working for them,
and I walked away from that.
I was making more than $100,000 a year.
Free life insurance.
Something I can't even buy.
I left that because of their phony...
Dolphin Safe tuna label.
I don't wanna be associated with that.
I couldn't believe
what I was hearing.
The internationally recognized
seafood label
was a complete fabrication
since it guaranteed nothing.
At this point, I began to wonder
what else was being covered up.
Even the groups
that are talking about marine plastic
are highly reluctant to talk about
what a lot of that plastic is,
which is fishing nets and fishing gear.
We hear a lot
about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,
and say, "Oh, isn't it terrible?
All our cotton buds and plastic bags
are swirling around
in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch."
Forty-six percent of it is fishing nets,
discarded fishing nets,
which are far more dangerous
for marine life than our plastic straws.
Because, of course,
they're designed to kill.
Now, this is so crashingly obvious,
why aren't we talking about it?
Why aren't even the plastics campaigns
talking about fishing?
How had I not
heard about this before?
Fishing vessels discard
a massive amount of ropes and lines,
and this was a major problem.
Today, even some of the most remote places
on Earth were awash with fishing gear.
Like Henderson Island
in the Pacific Ocean,
and Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.
In fact, looking closer at some of
the whales that washed up in the UK
when my journey began,
I discovered fishing gear
was the main trash in their stomachs.
This was the whale in the room
that no one was talking about.
I even found that longline fishing
sets enough fishing lines
to wrap around the entire planet
500 times every single day.
Although there isn't
a single fishery in the world
that deliberately targets seaturtles,
six out of seven species of sea turtle
are either threatened or endangered.
Not because of climate change,
not because of ocean pollution,
not because of plastics in the ocean,
but because of fishing.
But this is an issue
that nobody wants to talk about.
Again, if this was true,
how come I'd never heard about it?
All the headlines I'd ever seen
focused on plastic straws.
So I decided to look into the research.
A global study estimated
a conservative 1,000 sea turtle deaths
from plastic per year.
However, in the United States alone,
250,000 sea turtles are captured, injured,
or killed every yearby fishing vessels.
If a single sea turtle
with a straw in its nose went viral,
then why wasn't this front page news?
When I went on the websites
of leading marine organizations
who tackle plastic pollution,
I found pages and pages encouraging people
to stop using everything from tea bags
to chewing gum.
But no mention whatsoever
of what to do about fishing gear,
that is if they even mentioned it.
Instead, plastic straws
seemed to take up 99%
of what these groups were talking about,
which became even more shocking
when I found out plastic straws
only accounted for 0.03%
of plastic entering the ocean.
This was like trying to save
the Amazon rain forest and stop logging
by boycotting toothpicks.
It was barely a drop in the ocean.
If fishing gear was such a huge problem,
I wanted to know why
my favorite plastic organization
wasn't talking about it.
So, according to
the Plastic Pollution Coalition,
what is the main source of plastic
in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
Uh, for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,
I'm mostly finding microplastics.
Well, the latest study
actually showed
that 46%
of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
is fishing nets alone,
and the majority of the other garbage
were other types of fishing gear.
So wouldn't that be the majority?
No, I wouldn't say...
I won't say the majority
of the plastic in the jar is fishing nets.
Um, it's... it's a lot.
It's a... it's a mix of things.
But a majority means over 50%,
and fishing-related garbage
in the patch is over 50%.
So wouldn't that make it the majority?
Yeah. So if the... if the...
If it's close to 50%, that's, um, uh...
Yes, plastic fishing nets.
There is nothing that would compare
to that ratio as far as one item,
you know.
Uh, but the overwhelming, uh, thing is
that it's... it's plastic fishing nets.
Is there something that people
can do to stop this fishing net trash?
Uh, one thing that you could do
is... is, uh, eliminate,
or really, really reduce
your intake of... of fish,
and to really let those...
those populations rebound.
But also, that will eliminate
as much materials being used
to... to get those fish.
Well, do you know why
this important message
isn't on your website?
I... I don't... I don't know.
I don't make the website.
I mean, it'd be great for you
to talk to Dianna about it.
She's the founder,
she's been in it, she's got the...
She could probably
give you better answers.
So, Jackie was saying
that one of the ways
to tackle the massive problem
of fishing netsin the ocean
is to say no to eating fish.
I was wondering why you haven't put
that important message on your website.
A consumer message to eat less fish?
Yeah, it's not my area.
- It's not my area of focus. I hear you.
- Yeah.
I don't have time. We have an event.
Can you turn off the cameras? Thanks.
I'm not interested
in focusing there.
I don't have an opinion about that.
I was talking about
what people can do to make a difference
about fishing net trash in the ocean,
and Jackie said to eliminate
or reduce fish consumption.
- I asked if that was...
- She didn't say eliminate fish.
- She did.
- I know she didn't., uh, eliminate or really,
really reduce your intake of... of fish.
- She did. She...
- She didn't say eliminate fish.
I had no idea what was going on.
Why was such a simple question
receiving such backlash?
My only option was to follow the money.
So I did.
And sure enough, there it was.
Of course they're not gonna
talk about fishing nets.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition
is the same organization
as the Earth Island Institute.
These are the same ones who are
behind the Dolphin Safe tuna label,
who work with the fishing industry
to sell more seafood.
No wonder why they don't talk about
the leading cause of plastic pollution
in many parts of the world.
Now, it's entirely right to say
that we must use far less plastic.
But even if not a single gram of plastic
entered the oceans
from today onwards,
we would still be ripping
those ecosystems apart
because the biggest issue by far
is commercial fishing.
It's not just far more damaging
than plastic pollution,
it's far more damaging than oil pollution
from oil spills.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico
was the biggest in history.
It gushed huge quantities of oil
into the deep sea for a period of months.
And everyone was appalled
at the death of wildlife on the beaches
as the oil slopped ashore.
But in fact,
the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico
destroyed more animals in a day
than that oil spill did in months.
Because large areas were closed to fishing
because of the possibility
of being tainted by oil,
marine life actually benefited
from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
because it got a respite from fishing.
I have a hard time accepting that
a fisherman on his little fishing boat
- could be causing all this damage.
- Yeah.
So, what's the deal?
There's this image
of the fishing industry,
which is deeply implanted in our minds
from childhood.
It's a little red boat
chugging across a sparkling sea
with Captain Birdseye at the wheel,
with his white beard,
and his twinkly blue eyes,
and his fisherman's cap.
And of course, what it really is,
is a death machine.
This is a highly effective,
technological machine.
You've got these massively powerful boats,
huge fishing ships,
whose purpose is to mop up the animals
which are at the basis
of the whole marine food chain,
the fish.
Although I finally felt like I was
on the right track,
I couldn't help but feel frustrated
that the constant media
and global attention
on plastics and fossil fuels
were distracting from an industry
we hear almost nothing about,
with a much, much greater impact
on the sea.
Digging deeper,
I discovered this was also true
when it came to coral reefs.
With scientists predicting the loss
of 90% of reefs by the year 2050,
the only mainstream narrative on why
reefs were dying was climate change.
But hardly anyone was talking about
the fact fish were vital
to keep corals alive.
The ecosystem on coral reefs
is heavily based on recycling.
When these animals excrete,
that is food for the corals.
As fishermen come in and catch the fish,
not only is the fish suffering,
but the products that the fish release
into the water is food for the corals,
and the nutrients to replace them
and grow them up again will be lost.
Fishing has become the major threat
on many reefs around the world.
From the Middle East to the Caribbean,
where 90% of the large fish
which prospered there for millennia
have now disappeared.
So our oceans were clearly
at a turning point,
and I needed definitive answers.
I wanted to speak to conservationists
who had spent their lives
trying to protect the sea,
starting with meeting a living legend,
and one of my all-time favorite heroes,
to tell me more.
I'm Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer,
at the National Geographic,
founder of Mission Blue,
founder of Deep Ocean Exploration
and Research.
So over the years, I've seen changes.
I've been a witness
to perhaps the greatest era
of discovery about the ocean.
But at the same time,
the greatest era of loss.
Since the middle of the 20th century,
humans have succeeded
in extracting from the ocean,
immense quantities of wildlife.
The estimate is by the middle
of the 21st century,
if we keep taking wild fish at the level
that we are today,
there'll be no commercial fishing,
because there won't be
enough fish tocatch.
In the middle of the North Sea
in the 1830s,
a typical fishing boat
would be able to catch
one or two tons of halibut every day.
But today, the entire fishing fleet there
catches about two tons of halibut
across the entire year,
which means that halibut
is more than a thousand times
less abundant today than it was then.
We are at war with the oceans.
And if we win this war,
we're going to lose it all,
because mankind is not able
to live on this planet with a dead sea.
It's the total industrialization
of fishing that is the problem here.
We are pretty much destroying everything
at rapid speed.
Commercial fishing was essentially
wildlife poaching on a mass scale,
catching up to 2.7 trillion fish
every year,
or up to five million
killed every single minute.
No other industry on Earth
killed anywhere near
as many animals as this trade,
let alone wild species
that we barely understand.
This has led to global fish populations,
in some cases,
plummeting to near extinction.
But perhaps one of the
most shocking facts of all
came from one of the world's
leading fisheries experts
estimating that if
current fishing trends continue,
we will see virtually empty oceans
by the year 2048.
The more I learned,
the more devastating this fact became,
as I began to understand
just how interconnected
each species were with each other,
and even the role they play
in maintaining the chemistry of the ocean
and our planet's atmosphere.
It sounds just mind-blowing,
but the power
of animals moving up and down
through the water column,
in terms of mixing,
is as great as all the wind, waves,
tides, and currents in the seas combined.
And this has a huge impact
on the, the physics, the chemistry,
and the biology of the seas.
All this churning of the sea
may be one of the ways the oceans
help absorb heat from the atmosphere.
As animals swim through the water column,
it creates a powerful down-welling
of the warmer surface waters
to mix with the colder waters below.
And although more research
needs to be done,
the decimation of marine life
may be interfering with this process,
and contributing
to warmer sea temperatures.
The bottom line,
the oceans and the life within it
play a much bigger role
in climate than we ever expected.
And it turns out
that the life in the oceans
is absolutely crucial
for holding on to carbon
and preventing it
from being released to the atmosphere.
We understand that leaving trees
or planting trees
really helps the carbon equation,
but nothing matters more
than maintaining the integrity
of ocean systems.
I mean, these big animals,
even the little ones,
they take up carbon.
They sequester carbon
when they sink to the bottom of the ocean.
The ocean is the biggest carbon sink
on the planet.
If you want to address climate change,
the first thing you do
is protect the ocean.
And the solution to that is very simple:
leave it alone.
I always equate it to
this being a spaceship.
The Earth is a spaceship.
It's on a trip around the galaxy.
It takes 250 million years
just to make one orbit.
And every spaceship
has a life-support system,
provides us with the food we eat,
the air we breathe,
and regulates the climate,
the temperatures.
That life support system is run by a crew
of earthlings,
and there's only so many crew members
you can kill
before the machinery begins to break down,
you run out of engineers.
And that's what's happening,
we're killing off the crew.
I discovered that one of
the most important crew members
on this spaceship Earth
were actually marine plants.
Per acre, these coastal plants can store
up to 20 times more carbon
than forests on land.
In fact, 93% of all the world's CO2
is stored in the ocean
with the help of marine vegetation,
algae, and coral.
And losing just 1% of this ecosystem
was equivalent to releasing
the emissions of 97 million cars.
By, uh, continued extraction
of fish out of our oceans,
you're essentially deforesting our oceans
by not only removing the fish,
but the act of removal,
the methods of removal
are devastating to habitat, to ecosystems.
And it's even more so there
because it's out of sight, out of mind.
Trawling was by far
the most destructive form of fishing.
The largest trawl nets are so big
they could swallow whole cathedrals
or up to 13 jumbo jet planes.
The nets drag heavy weights at the bottom,
scarring the sea floor
that were once abundant with life,
leaving nothing
but a barren wasteland behind.
This was just like bulldozing
pristine Amazonian rain forest,
except it was much, much worse.
Every year, approximately 25 million
acres of forest are lost.
This was equivalent to losing
about 27 soccer fields per minute.
However, bottom trawling wipes out
an estimated 3.9 billion acres every year.
This was equivalent to losing
4,316 soccer fields every single minute.
Tallied up across the year,
this was equivalent
to wiping out the land area
of Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland,
Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Spain,
Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Iran, Thailand,
and Australia combined.
Where are the big environment groups?
Why aren't they all over this like a rash?
It's so obvious.
It's just shouting in our faces.
It is the fishing industry
that is destroying the fish
and the rest of the life of the seas.
How much more obvious does it need to be?
And yet, for the most part,
they are silent.
They're not speaking out against it.
They are deliberately not engaging
with the most important issue of all.
Many, uh, researchers feel
that we should be at about 30%
of our oceans being protected.
But, in reality, we're at 5% now
of marine protected areas.
But that's misleadingbecause over 90%
of those marine protected areas
still allow fishing.
So in reality,
less than 1%of all of our oceans
are being regulated.
We hear a lot from governments
about these marine protected areas.
And one of the government ministers
was interviewed and asked,
"In this particular protected area,
what is the additional protection
you're actually giving it?"
"Are you gonna protect it
against industrial fishing?"
"Are you gonna protect it
against oil drilling?"
"So, what are you actually
protecting it against?"
"Well, we're going
to put some more restrictions
on sea kayaking."
This was the only thing
she could come up with?
It's an utter disgrace.
With virtually no marine protected
areas that didn't allow fishing,
and global fish populations
on the brink of collapse,
I began to question
whether sustainable seafood
could even exist.
I have looked long and hard,
seriously, at trying to find an example
of where a large-scale extraction
of wildlife is sustainable.
It just doesn't exist.
It's hard to say,
"In some areas, fishing is okay,
and in others, it's not."
Because who will draw the line?
How would you know if a fish is,
like, caught illegal,
or is coming out of
a sustainable fishing method?
Well, first of all, there's no such thing.
It's impossible.
There's no such thing
as a sustainable fishery.
There's not enough fish to justify that.
Everything is now sustainable.
It's not sustainable.
Just a marketing phrase, that's all.
So don't you agree
with organizations
that recommend people
eat more sustainable seafood
as a way to protect the ocean?
No, I disagree with it completely.
You know,
basically what they're trying to do
is to appeal to the big tent.
They want the people who eat fish
to support them.
And this was a problem when I was
National Director for the Sierra Club,
that was their problem.
They didn't wanna come out
against hunting, against fishing,
or against meat-eating.
Because they thought they would
lose membership support if they did.
A lot of these groups aren't interested
in solving the problem,
they're interested
in exploiting the problem.
There's a lot of groups out there,
climate change,conservation, whatever.
It's a business.
It's a feel-good business.
I looked on Oceana's website.
They were the world's largest
marine conservation group,
but there wasn't a single mention
of reducing or eliminating
seafood consumption.
Instead, the organization recommends
one of the best ways to save fish
was to eat fish.
Oceana were advocating
for sustainable fishing,
so I decided to meet with the group
so they could explain what that meant.
What does sustainable fishing
actually mean? Who defines it?
That's a really thoughtful question.
Uh, sustainable...
Sustainability is not defined as such.
There is not a definition
of sustainability,
as a whole, for fisheries.
Isn't it confusing, then, to say,
"Eat sustainable fish,"
if there's no universal definition for it?
Uh, absolutely.
No, the consumer can't
assess right now, uh, properly
what fish is sustainable, what is not.
Uh, there is full of advices,
but it's true that the consumer can't
make an informed decision right now.
So if no one really knows
what it means,
wouldn't a more effective strategy be
to, say, reduce or eliminate
seafood consumption?
Wouldn't that be the best for the ocean?
I mean, it's difficult
to answer a question
with such a deep reflection
with, uh, so little time
to think about, right?
Um, because we don't have a position
in that respect.
We're never asked that question.
Oh, it would just be on the website.
You know, "Number one thing you can do
for the ocean,reduce fish consumption."
- Something like that.
- Um...
I left the Oceana officewith less
faith in the group than when I walked in.
Disappointed that they were unable
to answer such a simple question
about sustainable fishing.
Perhaps contacting
governmental authorities
would better answer my question.
After all,it was the second-best
thing to do on Oceana's website.
So I went straight to the top
and managed to secure a rare meeting
with the European Commissioner
of Fisheries and the Environment,
who was recently passing laws
to ban single-use plastic.
What is the definition
of sustainable fishing?
Imagine that you have money in a bank,
you have capital, you put, I don't know,
100 in the bank.
That 100, which is the capital,
is giving you interest.
As long as you are taking the interest,
and spending the interest
without touching the capital,
then that is sustainability.
As soon as you start taking away
the capital as well,
then you've entered
the unsustainable cycle.
Well, using your economic analogy,
today's oceans aren't only in debt,
but they're in a major depression.
Shouldn't we just stop spending
what we can't afford?
Obviously, we cannot go
to the other extreme, and say,
"The only solution is not to fish at all."
We cannot... I don't think we can do that.
But your government
are taking extreme measures
to ban single-use plastic,
when fishing causes far more destruction.
So why is the fishing industry
getting special treatment from this?
Yes. For me,
the idea is not to stop fishing.
For me, the idea is
to do more sustainable fishing.
To do more sustainable fishing.
More sustainable fishing
meant doing more of something
that isn't working,
and can't even be defined.
I wondered though,
with no clear definition,
where did that leave sustainable
certification groups, like the MSC,
who still haven't got back to me?
Oh, you mean
the Marine Stewardship Council?
- Yeah.
- Oh, God.
Getting me onto the subject of the
Marine Stewardship Council, you know.
How much do I want to say?
Well, they have certified fisheries
that produce astonishing levels
of bycatch.
And those are ignored
because the level of kill
is considered to be "sustainable"
in itself.
But that's not what a consumer
is looking for.
They want to know that
no marine mammals are being killed,
no seabirds are being slaughtered,
in order to put that fish on their plate.
The label on the tin
isn't worth a damn in some cases.
They make it appear on paper
as if, uh, eating,
on one hand, uh,
sustainably-produced salmon
is, uh, better than killing
a bluefin tuna,
and therefore creates a justification
in the eyes of the consumer.
But that's like essentially saying
that it's more sustainable
to shoot a polar bear
than shooting a panda.
When in reality,
uh, neither one is sustainable,
and neither one is right to do.
So, do you think it's gonna be possible
to do an interviewwith the MSC
at any point?
Um, I don't think that's gonna work out.
Um, there's nobody in the office
at the moment.
There's loads of conferences on.
After having our interview request
turned down countless times over phone,
we decided to visit
their head office instead.
Hi, my name's Ali.
I've been trying to organize an interview
with someone atMSC for months now,
and I just had some questions
about sustainable fishing.
Would there be anyone around
I could speak to really quickly?
We were told to wait in the waiting room
while they found someone to speak to us.
But after half an hour of panicked looks
between the members of staff,
we were asked to leave.
Just got palmed off again by the MSC.
The world's largest
sustainable seafood organization
doesn't wanna talk to me
about sustainable seafood.
The only thing left to do
was to try and follow the money.
And it didn't take long
to find the massive conflict of interest.
One of the founders of the MSC
was the Unilever corporation,
who at the time
were a major seafood retailer.
And despite countless fisheries
clearly being depleted and destructive,
I could only find a couple
that had ever been denied certification
in over 20 years.
But most shocking of all
was learning that over 80%
of the almost 30-million-a-year income
was from licensing their logo on seafood.
Basically, the more blue ticks they
handed out, the more money they made.
So as far as I was concerned,
there was no way I was gonna
trust these labels again.
In fact,other attempts to
regulate the industry were also failing,
with government observers
who are given the task
of monitoring fishing activity on ships
being murdered at sea,
thrown overboard,
like Keith Davis,
a 41-year-old American observer,
who in recent years
went missing off the coast of Peru,
never to be seen again.
In Papua New Guinea,
18 observers went missing
in the space of just five years.
And in the Philippines, in 2015,
an observer by the name
of Ms. Gerlie Alpajora
received death threats
from the family of a tuna fisherman
who was arrested for illegal fishing.
Soon after, armed men entered her home,
and she was assassinated in cold blood
with a gunshot to the head
in front of her two young boys.
When we look at fisheries crime,
we have to look at it within the context
of transnational organized crime.
And the same syndicates
that are behind illegal fishing
are the same criminal groups
that are behind drug trafficking,
human trafficking, and other crimes.
If you get in the way of their business,
you are risking your own life.
But also don't be surprised at the extent
at which governments will go
to prevent you from exposing
the economic activities
that they subsidize at sea.
A subsidy is taxpayer money
given to an industry
to keep the price of a product or service
artificially low.
And in an increasing number of countries,
more money was going out
than the value of fish coming back in.
So if you don't eat fish,
you're still sustaining fisheries
because you're paying for it
in your taxes.
So if you think about it,
it's really shocking
that we subsidize the fishing industry
somewhere in the region of $35 billion,
which is the same amount that,
according to United Nations,
we'd need to combat world hunger.
Subsidies were originally started
as a means to ensure food security.
But ironically,
they are now the cause of food insecurity
in many developing regions.
Fishing by the
European Union in places like West Africa
is driven by European Union subsidies.
And that means
that local businesses can't compete
with the economic might
of the European Union.
Really it's just a continuation
of a history
of plundering the African continent.
These intensive fishing operations
weren't only wiping out the fish,
they were also destroying economies.
In the United States,
up to one in every three
wild-caught fish imported
had been caught illegally,
and therefore sold illegally.
Stolen, often from countries in most need,
where there are now wars over the fish.
One of the causes
for the infamous pirates of Somalia,
now feared across the world,
was actually illegal fishing.
They were once humble fisherman
working to feed their families.
But when Somalia fell to civil war,
foreign illegal fishing vessels,
the real pirates of today's oceans,
invaded their waters
and began taking the fish,
effectively pulling food
from their mouths,
giving Somali fishermen no choice
but to move into another line of work.
This plundering
of the African Coast, though,
was happening across the continent.
And Sea Shepherd was on
a daring mission to end this,
working with governments
to track down and arrest
illegal fishing vessels
in places like Liberia.
Despite the warnings of traveling
to this region of the world,
we decided to join Sea Shepherd
to get up close to the front line
of this problem.
We have mostly international fleets
coming from countries
where they've already depleted
their own local stocks,
and they're pushing further and further
away to try and make up for that.
And using more and more
sophisticated technology
to increase their catch numbers.
When we look at international fleets,
they come here,
and they either fish illegally...
And what they're catching
is worth huge, huge amounts,
so it's like a gold rush.
Our coastal waters had now become
a free-for-all,
until, quite recently,
when we decided to pay attention to that,
and try to police it.
For us, with the military,
when we go on these operations,
we assume the highest alert.
We know that it's piracy going on.
So indeed, it's a dangerous operation.
Upon arrival,
it became clear
why the ocean around West Africa
was so worth protecting.
It was home to one of the last strongholds
of life in our oceans.
Teeming with rare and wonderful wildlife
of all kinds.
Countless species journeyed across
the Atlantic Ocean
to find themselves in these waters.
A refuge for mating and feeding.
Living in as close to harmony and balance
as I'd ever seen.
But there was another species,
journeying to these waters
for a very different purpose.
It didn't take long to witness
how Sea Shepherd
and the Liberian Coast Guard
tracked down and boarded fishing vessels.
Species I had never seen
in my entire life
were dying in the nets
before I could even appreciate them.
But the scenes continued below deck,
where it became clear that these vessels
were more like floating slaughterhouses.
This is the hold
of just one purse seiner ship.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg,
it goes down the whole size of the ship.
There could be
hundreds of thousands of fish.
Seeing how hard it is to get on this ship,
you need pretty much a military operation.
Plus, they could be fishing unsustainably,
and no one would ever know.
They could sell this
as sustainably certified.
So I just don't see how you could possibly
enforce sustainable fishing laws
with all these boats this far out at sea.
I just don't see how it's possible.
It's at nighttime
that illegal fishing thrives
under the cloak of darkness.
Vessels entering the waters
of other countries without detection
and stealing the fish.
But that was also prime time
for Sea Shepherd to do their work.
Yeah, we gonna board the vessel,
we have to do it as soon as possible.
Copy that.
So, Sea Shepherd have just spotted
a boat on the horizon.
It's on the radars.
Could be an illegal fishing vessel.
We're about to go and find out.
The ship was a Chinese trawler.
In its hold were huge quantities
of illegally-caught fish.
The vessel was detained and fined.
It was only one victory,
but it sent a clear message
to the other ships in the area,
that there were now real consequences
to their illegal actions.
Still on the illegal fishing vessel
after sunrise,
as the ship was getting ready
to be taken back to port,
I saw some men rowing up to the ship.
I remembered the piracy warning
from the Minister of Defense,
but these men didn't look like pirates.
Why were they risking their lives
in open waters on a small canoe?
Suddenly, I saw this.
They were hungry.
If you look along the coast,
these are people who've lived here
from time immemorial.
That's their livelihood,
that's their way of life.
But when we allow the industrial fishing
to come so close into their zone,
it doesn't give them a chance
to get a good catch out of there.
'Cause if he cannot catch
what he's supposed to catch
because a commercial vessel has come up
and scoop up everything from here,
he's destined to go further out.
These guys are out here
without life vests.
It's dangerous. Anything can happen.
You get kicked out of your boat,
or your canoe, that's it.
Fisheries workers at sea
have some of the most dangerous jobs
on Earth.
In context,
over 4,500 US soldiers were killed
in the Iraq War
over the course of 15 years.
But during that same time,
360,000 fisheries workers died
doing their job,
as an estimated 24,000 workers
die every year.
And West African canoe fishermen
happened to have
the highest mortality rates
of any fisheries job on the planet.
Huge numbers of people
depended on the fish,
which is now mostly gone.
That's caused a great deal of hunger,
not just on the coast,
but up to a thousand miles inland.
So, what do people do
for fishing instead?
They'll hunt wild animals on land.
And that has not only had
devastating impacts
on animal life on land,
it also seems to have had
a very major impact on human life,
because it's the bushmeat trade
which is responsible
for the Ebola epidemics.
You can actually stand this up,
it's in the scientific literature.
The theft of fish stocks is enhancing
or causing Ebola outbreaks of West Africa.
As our trip in Liberia
drew to a close,
I questioned whether there was
any alternative fishing method
that could provide some kind of solution
to both the environmental
and humanitarian ramifications
of this industry.
And a glimmer of hope presented itself
in the form of fish farming,
an industry with the reputation
of beingan eco-friendly way
to feed the world
without all the problems
of wild-caught fish.
With no bycatch, no illegal fishing,
no sea-floor damage,
no killing of endangered species,
and no dangerous working conditions,
it was exactly what I was looking for.
Yeah, so a lot of people
jump to the conclusion
that sustainable seafood
comes from farming fish
and not high seas fishing,
but it's really not the case.
Uh, there's so many issues involved
with farming fish,
uh, being pollution, disease,
and we have to ask the question,
"What are these fish being fed?"
What were they being fed?
The industry claim that to produce
one kilogram of farmed salmon,
only 1.2 kilograms of feed is needed.
But when I looked further,
I found the feed is heavily processed,
and is made of dried fish meal
and extracted fish oil,
which requires a massive amount
of fish to produce.
So in reality,
you need many times more fish
going into the farmer's feed
than will ever come out.
So fish farming
was just wild fishing in disguise.
And what made this even more shocking
was the scale fish farming
already operates at.
Today, around 50% of the world's seafood
is coming from farms like these.
Huge cages in the ocean
containing tens of thousands of fish.
So we decided to leave Liberia
and journey back to the UK, for Scotland,
one of the world's leading producers
of farmed salmon.
Since none of the major companies
wanted to speak to us,
we decided to meet with some of
the industry's whistleblowers instead.
The salmon farming industry
in Scotland is extremely powerful.
And we're talking about
billion-dollar multinationals,
which have the resources and the skills
to dominate the narrative,
and ensure that the only information
that gets out
is the information
they're comfortable with.
So when I went to document the issues,
ended up making my way out
to one of the farms.
And there, I filmed some of
the most severe sea lice infestations
that's ever been recorded.
Corin was able to capture footage
of salmon being eaten alive
by an infestation of sea lice parasites.
A common reality of fish farming
across the world.
It was sad to think
that this incredible species,
which had evolved for millions of years
to migrate across entire oceans
and navigate up rivers
to reach the exact same spawning grounds
they were born in,
were now confinedto swim in circles
in their own filth.
So, it's estimated
that each salmon farm in Scotland
produces organic waste equivalent
to a town of 10 to 20,000 people.
And taken together,
it's estimated that
the Scottish salmon farming industry
produces organic waste
equivalent to the entire population
of Scotland each year.
The next activist I wanted to meet
was Don Staniford,
who'd been going undercoverto expose
the reality of fish farms for years.
And we agreed to go undercover with him.
So, we're here
at Marine Harvest Salmon Farm,
and it's disgusting.
This is the...
this is the stench of Scottish salmon.
This is where salmon go to die
from the farms.
Maybe 50% of the salmon are dying
from egg to plate, from hatch to catch.
And this is the Mortality Mountain.
This is a symptom
of factory battery salmon farming.
These fish are dying from anemia,
lice infestation,
infectious diseases,
chlamydia, heart disease.
This is welfare abuse.
So, far from being a panacea
for the world food problem,
salmon farming is a waste of resources.
It's biological nonsense.
The stench was horrifying.
These weren't the bright orange
and pink salmon
I'd seen in the commercials.
So, farmed salmon,
without colorants being added to its feed,
would be completely gray,
to the extent that salmon farmers
can actually select from a color chart,
much like you get
when painting your house.
You can select the pinkness of the salmon
that you're gonna produce.
So it wouldn't be for me to say,
but it does seem like people are eating
gray fish that's painted pink.
This was the real monster
in the lochs of Scotland.
But the environmental impact
of farming marine life
didn't end with fish.
One of the world's most important habitats
is mangroves.
Now, mangrove forests
are absolutely crucial storm barriers.
They protect communities
from storm surges, even from tsunamis.
And yet, 38% of the world's mangroves
have been destroyed
by shrimp and prawn farming.
However, it's the shrimp feed which is
having the greatest humanitarian impact,
because it depends on slavery.
We hear a lot about blood diamonds.
This is blood shrimp.
This recent aerial footage
shows a fisherman in Southeast Asia
writing a secret message to the drone,
out of sight of the captain.
Slavery at sea is a massive problem.
I think it's very hard
to give precise figures,
precisely because it operates
under the radar.
Those people
who are driving these abuses,
for obvious reasons,
don't want to get found out.
In that regard, I would point to Thailand.
So there are now somewhere in the region
of about 51,000 boats fishing
in Thai waters under the Thai flag.
They had to find a way of fishing
ever more cheaply to catch fewer fish.
And that's where
the inherent vulnerability begins.
Most of those boats would not be economic
without this free, cheap labor.
I had no idea when I started
my journey that it would lead me here,
but it was hard to believe the
fishing industry could be this corrupt.
The information I was finding online
was conflicting,
so I wanted to ask the industry myself,
at an international seafood expo
open only to industry insiders.
We created fake business cards
for a fake seafood company to sneak in,
which actually worked,
and secretly filmed my interaction
with a representative from Thai seafood.
I was doing some research...
Research. And I found out
that a lot of, uh, Thai shrimp and prawns
are coming from slave labor.
People kidnapped...
- Oh, no, no!
- It's not true?
No, not true!
- Whoa! So they're lying?
- Lying.
- So there's no slavery going on?
- No, no.
So why would they say that?
I don't know. You ask them that.
- Yeah. So it's...
- Business, huh? It's business.
Yeah, absolutely.
Yeah, it's business.
I was so fed up by all these
companies and NGOs bluewashing the truth,
but honestly, I didn't know what to think.
The only way I could find out for sure
if fishing slavery
was still going on today
was by actually speaking
to these fishing slaves ourselves.
Would you say there's any
safety concerns for me making this film?
The safety concerns are serious.
And I think,
ignore them at your risk.
You can see people are being murdered.
So some of those involved are murderers.
Somebody might kill you,
and that is possible
if you're foolish, and if you're
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You can be victim of unfair
or unreasonable actions by the law
who have been paid,
i.e. a victim of corruption.
So you have to be extremely careful,
and the security protocols that you apply
may well mean the difference
between life and death.
We arrived in Bangkok
with the details of a halfway home
for escaped slaves.
We knew that
just by filming these interviews
and shining a light on the
criminal activities in the country,
we were putting ourselves
and those around us at risk.
Don't film my face.
I can be hunted down for helping you.
All we could do
was cross our fingers,
and hope we got the answers
we were looking for.
Could you start off by telling me
how long you were on these ships for?
I was at sea
for 10 years, 2 months, and 2 days.
I was scared, let me be straight with you.
Nobody could get off the ship,
there were guards that kept eyes on us.
I was at sea for six years.
I was so depressed
I tried to take my own life three times.
When I first met the captain on land,
we drank and had a good time.
But once I was on the ship
and the ship left the shore,
the captain changed from white to red.
He changed,
like we didn't know each other.
He bullied and abused me
like we didn't know each other.
He splashed us with boiling water
when we were sick and tired,
hit us whenever he wasn't happy
by using an iron bar,
and threatened us with a gun.
On the ship I was on,
sometimes they kept dead human bodies
in the freezers after killing them.
On my ship, boys dropped
into the sea and drowned.
I saw their dead bodies floating
on the water surface days later.
I felt sorry for their parents,
they would never know
of their son's death.
When ships are in the
middle of the ocean, where problems occur,
they can throw you overboard
into the sea.
They can just say to the authorities
that you were sick and fell into the sea.
People don't see how we catch seafood,
they only care for consumption.
A lot of the seafood we're consuming today
is from slavery,
from forced labor.
I would like to see everyone
stop supporting them
if that's possible.
Would you be able
to take us to the slave ships,
or is it too dangerous to film?
It's dangerous for you to make
this documentary, and film these ships.
If you're scared of dying,
go home.
At this point, off-camera,
we were notified that we had to end
the interview right then and there
as police were on their way.
Someone had reported us
for filming without permits,
and we needed to get out of there
I was sad to be leaving Thailand
so suddenly,
knowing there were young men just like me
trapped on fishing boats
who'd never be able to go home.
But after risking our safety,
I felt powerless to do anything about it.
Especially knowing the authorities
were involved in covering it up.
Back home, it'd been weeks
since I picked up a camera.
The gravity of everything
had caught up with me,
and frankly, I was overwhelmed.
However, months earlier,
we had booked a trip to the Faroe Islands,
a small archipelago in the North Atlantic
that practiced an old form of whaling.
We'd booked the trip
back when I thought whaling
was one of the biggest threats
facing the ocean.
But after witnessing much greater impacts
and the human rights abuses that followed,
it seemed like a step backwards.
However, this particular form of whaling,
called a "Grind,"
had recently received attention in the
media as a sustainable form of whaling,
claiming the species of whale aren't
endangered and that hunting them
caused no environmental damage.
Whales were the whole reason I set out
on this journey in the first place,
and I was skeptical about how sustainable
it could possibly be.
So we decided to make one final trip
to the Faroe Islands,
in the hopes of
witnessing one of these hunts
and speaking to a whaler.
Some years on the islands,
a whale hunt may only occur
a handful of times.
Other years, none at all.
We patiently awaited
news of a hunt for ten days,
until finally, we received the call.
There's a Grind? How far?
How do you spell that?
H-V... yeah.
Yeah, I know where it is. Okay, okay.
See you later.
In the chaos
of everything that happened,
I finally understood sustainability.
It just meant that something
could continu e on and on forever
regardless of how much
suffering it caused.
In reality,
the Grind was about as sustainable
as you could get.
But I began to wonder
whether sustainability
was truly the right goal
for how we took care of the ocean.
So, I don't feel like I'm a bad person.
If somebody want to say, "Yeah,
you're a bad person for killing a whale."
Uh, I would rather kill one whale
than 2,000 chickens.
That's about the same amount of meat.
Uh, so if the world
wants to take 2,000 lives,
and we are taking one, you're welcome.
And at that point,
I feel like I'm a better person
than many other people
that are thinking about,
"Yeah, we had salmon
for dinner last night."
Four people, salmon,
that means two, three salmons killed.
Do you really feel good about yourself
killing two salmons
for eating dinner?
Uh, I can follow the thoughts
that people are saying,
"If you want to eat, don't kill anything."
Like, just eating vegetables, and fruits,
and stuff like that.
I can go along with that,
but I really can't go along with people
that are saying,
Uh, "You must not kill Grind."
And then, they are killing
or eating other animals.
For me, a fish, a chicken, a whale,
exactly the same value.
It has one life.
some say it doesn't need to be taken
for getting food,
but that's what we are doing.
Although I didn't agree
with everything he said,
the whaler had a point.
All this time, I had only looked at fish
and other marine life in terms
of sustainability and ecological impact,
but I never considered the lives
of these animals in their own right,
or whether they could feel.
To me, it's remarkable
that the question is even asked that,
"Do fish feel pain?"
As a scientist, it's common sense.
They have a nervous system, fish do.
They have the basic elements
that all vertebrates have.
They have the capacity to feel on a level
that I almost can't imagine we can.
We feel pain, we feel touch.
But fish have a lateral line
down their sides
that senses the most exquisite
little movements in the water.
So you see a thousand fish
moving like one fish.
Those who say, "Doesn't matter what you
do to a fish, they can't feel anything."
Or that they... Their consciousness,
they can't relate to pain,
or they can't sense danger in the future.
Well, they haven't really observed fish.
I think it's a justification
for doing dastardly things
to innocent creatures.
It's the only explanation I can think of
for treating fish
with such a barbaric attitude.
So you don't eat fish?
Oh, I don't eat fish now, or any animal.
A scientific panel
for the European Union
concluded that fish do in fact feel pain
and experience fear.
Just like dolphins and whales,
fish can also have complex social lives,
even teaming up with other species
to find food.
With research proving, once and for all,
the intelligence,memory capabilities,
and sentience of these animals,
fish, and even crustaceans,
were more like us
than we ever expected.
Fishes probably invented all
of the familiar senses to us.
Uh, they've been around a long time.
So they have excellent vision, hearing,
sense of touch, sense of smell and taste.
They have the right kind of pain receptors
for physical, chemical,
and heat types of pain,
the same three kinds that we have.
And also, there's evidence
that fishes show, uh, curiosity,
perhaps concern, perhaps, uh, fear,
when they can see other fishes
being taken out of their tanks,
and chopped up on a block
right outside the tank.
It could be family members,
or relatives,
or just individuals
who they've gotten to like over time.
There's emerging scienceon how animals
do use democratic decision-making.
One example is herrings, they have
a very curious way of communicating.
They actually fart to communicate.
So, if 60% of the herrings
in the school are farting,
then that means it's time to leave,
maybe not surprisingly.
But they actually use that
as a communication tool.
I can't keep a straight face.
As hilarious as that was,
I'd always been taught that seafood
was an important part of a healthy diet,
and I still had some questions.
What am I going to miss out on
if I stopped eating seafood?
Well, what you're gonna miss out on,
if you stopped eating seafood,
is you're gonna miss out on
all that toxic heavy metal.
Mercury, right?
You're gonna decrease your intake
of dioxins and PCBs,
these other, you know,
persistent organic pollutants.
The aquatic food chain
is the most concentrated source
of industrial pollutants.
The thought of clean fish?
There's just dirty fish
and then dirtier fish.
And so if you look at the number one
source of dioxin exposure,
of toxic heavy metal exposure,
PCB exposure,
of hexachlorobenzene,
plastics compounds,
flame-retardant chemicals...
I mean,
you name your industrial pollutant,
it's found most concentrated in fish.
Again, because that's just where
the pollutants eventually end up.
Mercury is totally a toxicant
to the body.
Let's say mercury from some industry
pollutes the air or the water.
Small bacteria, plankton,
they start picking up on the mercury.
And then, small creatures eat those.
Then you've got the smaller fish
eaten by the bigger fish, and so on.
In essence,
this is called bioaccumulation.
So there's other things in fish,
it's not just omega-3 fatty acids.
Those contaminants oftentimes
outweigh the benefits of the nutrients.
A common belief is
that fish are the best source
of these essential omega-3 fatty acids,
but people don't realize
that fish don't make omega-3 fatty acids.
It's the algae cells
that are making the omega-3 fats,
and the fish swallow the algae cells.
And the algal DHA is what winds up
in the fish's flesh,
that when we kill the fish,
and crush its flesh,
and squeeze out the "fish oil"
for the omega-3s,
it was really algae oil
in there all the time.
So why not just eat the algae that has
those great benefits we're looking for?
Why even mess with the middleman,
and just eat the direct source.
We started New Wave Foods
with the mission to disrupt seafood,
not oceans,
by creating seafood from sea plants.
So you're not gonna miss out on taste,
it's there for you.It's delicious.
But you will miss the cholesterol,
there's no PCBs,
no mercury, no heavy antibiotics.
You get the things you want from seafood,
but none of the negative things.
Plant-based solutions, I think,
is definitely one of the best options
that we have to go forward.
Traditional animal agriculture,
raising cows and chickens on land,
have huge impacts in the ocean.
The runoff from those procedures
create dead zones in the environment.
And fishing and fish farming, too.
So if we can find alternatives
that are just as delicious,
just as healthy for you,
but better for the environment,
why wouldn't we do it?
My journey had taken me far.
And despite witnessing
catastrophic destruction,
I had more admiration for the ocean
than ever before.
I felt empowered by what I'd learned,
and couldn't wait to put it into practice.
Although I still pick up trash on beaches,
and have embarked on a project
to continue investigating
and reporting on environmental issues,
with so many plant-based alternatives
emerging for almost every seafood product
I could imagine...
I realized the single best thing
I could do every single day
to protect the ocean
and the marine life I loved,
was to simply...
not eat them.
If we protect more
and fish less,
and restore that kind of balance
and healthy ecosystem,
they've got a good chance of making it
through the tough times ahead.
There is real hope here
because marine ecosystems
bounce back so quickly
if they're allowed to.
You would see the reefs coming back,
you would see
these incredible shoals of fish returning,
you would see the whales
returning to our coast.
This is within our grasp.
We can do this.
The prospects for marine recovery,
for rewilding, are incredibly exciting,
but it can only happen
if very large areas of sea
are closed to commercial fishing.
And while governments
are not prepared to take action,
and while the industry
is basically unregulated,
the only ethical thing to do
is to stop eating fish.
It isn't too late to take the best hope
we will ever have
of having a home in this universe.
To respect what we've got,
to protect what remains,
don't let any of the pieces escape.
Most of the positive and negative things
that bring about change
in human civilization
start with someone.
Some "one."
And no one can do everything,
but every one can do something.
And sometimes,
big ideas make a big difference.
That's what we can do.
That's what you can do right now.
Look in the mirror, figure it out.
Go for it.
You see the truth
Always finds a way
To rise above the waves
And I'm scared
To see what I've become
All I was
Like a whale
Gasping for air
I'm diving deep
I'm diving deep
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Motions of emotions
Take me over the ocean s
That I believe
It's the only thing
That's been honest to me
Take me over the oceans
That I believe
It's the only thing
That's been honest