Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Seaspiracy facts challenged by Scottish fish farming organisations as documentary controversy continues

© Lucy TabriziAli Tabrizi (Filmmaker and avid ocean-lover) handles a shark fin in Seaspiracy.
Ali Tabrizi (Filmmaker and avid ocean-lover) handles a shark fin in Seaspiracy.

It is a blistering indictment of how our oceans have been mismanaged and left in peril.

The Seaspiracy documentary warns without urgent action to halt over-fishing and pollution our seas will be dead within decades.

However, the film makers have been forced to defend what has become one of the most-watched and most contentious documentaries on streaming giant Netflix as critics accuse the programme of citing unreliable statistics and sensationalising the crisis.

Travelling across the planet, the film eventually ends up in Scotland, where local activists decry the pollution and animal welfare malpractices occurring in salmon farms across the country.

As well as footage of piles of dead fish and sea lice-infested live salmon, the film claims – as was originally stated in 2018 by Dr Richard Luxmoore, senior nature conservation adviser at the National Trust for Scotland – that the amount of organic waste from a single salmon farm in Scotland is the same as all of the country’s west coast towns combined.

But the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) has refuted the allegations that their industry is guilty of animal welfare abuses, leads to loss of wild fish stocks, and pollutes the surrounding seas.

© Netflix
Netflix documentary Seaspiracy exposes issues within the fish farming industry in Scotland.

Dr Iain Berrill of the SSPO said: “While this film raises some very important issues, the claims made against salmon farming in Scotland are wrong, misleading and inaccurate.

“To take just a few of these exaggerated and emotive claims –  salmon farming is not responsible for degrading wild fish stocks for use in feed, lice on our fish are not out of control and claims equating organic waste from salmon farms to human waste are misleading and have been repeatedly de-bunked.

“Farmed Scottish salmon swim and shoal freely in high-quality, cool seawater that is constantly being refreshed by tides and currents.”

Seaspiracy warns of ocean apocalypse but depleted seas recover in Scottish island’s pioneering no-fishing zone

Seaspiracy now has a fact check section on its website, where it backs up all claims made in the film with a number of different references. Its claims about fish farms are linked to data published by the Aquatic Network, a resource for Aquaculture and Aquaponics, the Journal of Applied Genetics,

Despite having a detailed list of sources on its website for the facts it presents, the film has also faced criticism over its blanket solution to the issues facing our oceans: simply to stop eating fish.

This has been challenged by activists defending those living in developing fishing communities, who rely on seafood to survive.

As Greenpeace states on its website, while those in more affluent countries may be able to cut fish out of their diets and replace it with something else: “A blanket ban on eating fish would unfairly disadvantage [developing] communities.

“It is industrialised fishing that’s the true evil here, not traditional harvesters taking what they need to feed their family.”

And although better regulation of commercial fishing has been advocated by marine experts in agreement with the film, some have said that to stop exploiting our oceans will lead to more damage on land.

“There are sustainable fisheries and we are not damaging all of our marine environment, but we can always do more to protect it,” said Professor Paul G Fernandes, Chair of Fisheries Science at the University of Aberdeen.

“All food production has environmental costs.  Land has been damaged far more than the sea, and extinction –  or ‘defaunation’ – on land, has been much worse than at sea (so far).

“If we don’t get our protein from a sustainable proportion of free living wild animals at sea, we will have to produce more of it on land, which will require more resources – space, water, and energy – to produce, further deteriorating our terrestrial ecosystems.

“Not to mention the nitrogen release, carbon footprint and the welfare issues of keeping animals or plants in mass miserable captivity for generations.”

Seaspiracy, streaming now, Netflix