Seaspriacy Review

Since premiering on Netflix in March, Seaspiracy has made quite a splash. Directed by Ali Tabrizi, the documentary about commercial fishing has drawn both international acclaim and criticism. Seapriacy certainly made some important points – humanity is having a massive impact on the sea, and commercial fishing is the biggest threat to marine biodiversity. However, critics cited the outdatedness of certain referenced studies, interviews that were taken out of context, and the potential exaggeration of some claims.

  For instance, a significant portion of the film consists of Tabrizi’s interviews with various members of government and ocean conservation groups, and while these make the film’s claims seem more credible, Tabrizi could be easily accused of ‘leading the witness’ if these scenes were moved from the respective members’ offices to a courtroom. In another example, the very author of the study cited for one of the film’s most jarring claims – that the oceans will be empty by 2048 if current fishing practices continue – stated that the estimate was outdated. But this does not mean that certain, critical species will not be depleted by then – or that the oceans will not be depleted by, say, 2100 if current practices continue. Additionally, the film’s suggestion that sustainable fisheries are nonexistent has upset quite a few specialists in various marine areas. Finally, the film’s claim that people should entirely stop eating fish has drawn criticism for being unrealistic for places in which people get most of their protein from the sea, as well as their livelihoods.

Regarding the film’s layout, Seapriacy takes the watcher on a journey with Tabrizi as he interviews government and organization officials and witnesses fishing practices, which differs from typical approaches to documentaries. This style adds a personal, relatable touch and makes the magnitude of the information presented more interesting. Seaspiracy is also very visually appealing, featuring many overhead shots of the sea and instances in which the camera focus changes to reveal new information. 

Overall, Seaspiracy is a very intriguing film, but Tabrizi does utilize some questionable interviewing techniques and outdated or unrealistic claims. Though somewhat inaccurate, the film is beautiful and therefore appealing for those who do not regularly watch documentaries. However, for a more accurate depiction of the threats truly facing the sea, older (though less visually appealing) documentaries are better bets.

3.5 stars.