15 abril 2021

Seaspiracy is necessary (contains spoilers)

By Carolina Vicente Cesetti PhD candidate in Law at the University of Brasília and member of the Research Group of Law, Natural Resources and Sustainability Studies in the University of Brasilia (Portuguese acronym: GERN).


On the 24th of March 2021 the documentary Seaspiracy[1] premiered on Netflix and on the 5th of April it entered first place in the list of most watched films in England, and it is also already part of the list of the 10 most watched films of Streaming in several countries. In just two weeks, an extremely relevant topic became more accessible through this documentary. Many shocking scenes, aiming to provoke reflections in the viewers, therefore the need to watch the documentary. However, this brief text does not aim to summarize the documentary, but to analyze the points exposed, as well as the counterpoints and reactions of the sector to the information showed.


Throughout the film, one of the great criticisms made is that industrial fishing is extremely predatory and harmful to the marine environment, which is a reality that needs to be modified. The documentary points out that the main solution is to end the consumption of fish, thus weakening this type of fishing. It is possible to deduce that this solution is magnificent, but far from the current reality, fishing involves industry, workers of the sector, consumers, traditional populations, marine animals and their environment. It is a range of variables that must be taken into account.


The most shocking and revolting scenes in the documentary are: hunting dolphins because they feed on the fish that fishermen catch; slave-like work on ships; brutal hunting of whales; the production of marine waste resulting from the abandonment of fishing equipment at sea; and the lack of confidence in sustainable labels. Still, without the work of the State and International Organizations and International Non-Governmental Organizations, the scenario could be even more catastrophic. Of course, there still a long way to go for fishing activity at sea, however, it would be unfair not to recognize the efforts of regulations made by subjects of public international law and its actors.


The documentary talked about NGOs that do outstanding work, they were the Sea Shepherd[2] and the Environmental Justice Foundation[3]. Others were criticized harshly, like the famous Oceana. However, Oceana spoke about the allegations brought by the producers of Seaspiracy. In its statement[4], Oceana affirms that it is possible to save the oceans and feed the world, they add that the campaigns they carry out in several countries today are already part of 28% of world fishing. They highlight their progress in campaigns on stopping bycatch, overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution and offshore oil drilling, among others. They conclude by saying that the campaigns are to protect animals and marine lives, as well as people who depend on the ocean for survival.


The relevance of the information and the exposure of the current situation of industrial fishing in the world in other to increase awareness is undeniable. Thus, the documentary promotes Ocean Literacy which is an invitation to schools; companies; NGOs; governments; universities; communities; citizens; each and every one of us, to recognize the role of the ocean in our lives; to talk about its importance; recognize our influence on the ocean; think about our behaviors and propose actions; public policies; and innovative tools that help to conserve the ocean and guarantee the quality of life for future generations[5]. To make this possible, science needs to be heard, as well as all means of solutions that are tangible to the largest number of countries, taking into account their realities.


Another aspect is to reflect on the role of the Law of the Sea and the lawyers of the area in this debate. Law has the incessant function of monitoring the evolution of society; it is an unfinished job since its evolution is constant. In marine matters, there is an effort by subjects of International Law to regulate this complex matter, since the Truman Proclamation in 1945 on the Fishing Zone and Continental Shelf. Then, there was the 1958 Conference on the Law of the Sea that regulated the Territorial Sea, the Contiguous Zone, the Continental Shelf, the High Seas and on Fisheries and the conservation of the biological resources of the High Seas. In 1982 the text of the Convention of the United Nations on the Law of the Sea was approved and till today several regulations are in order to continue to develop this important subject. Therefore, it is possible to highlight concepts and legal obligations coming from these international normative texts that aim to strengthen the legal security of the Law of the Sea. However, the documentary did not mention their existence. Even so, the producers could not address all the issues and there is a lot of relevance to the content of the film which is necessary to foster the debate and further development of the topic.



[1] [1] SEASPIRACY (Available on Netflix): Acess in 10th of apr. of 2021.

[2]Available on: : Acess in 10th of apr. of 2021.

[3] Available on: : Acess in 10th of apr. of 2021.

[4] Available on: Acess in 10th of apr. of 2021.

[5]Available on: Acess in 10th of apr. of 2021.


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