Sailors' Library


Directed by Ali Tabrizi

Available on Netflix

Complaining Thai ‘slave’ workers being thrown overboard from rogue trawlers; Bluefin tuna being illegally landed at night in Japan and ‘ecologically safe to eat’ labels on tinned fish being debunked as fraudulent are just three of the ‘conspiracies’ thrown into this bouillabaisse of a documentary.

All three issues are huge and each one is worthy of a full investigation itself, and the filmmakers have added the devastating effects of plastic waste, ‘by-catch’ and fish farming too.

The end result is shocking: Industrial fishing is shown in a very brutal light; giant electrically charged pulse trawl net chains smash coral, obliterate the sea bed infrastructure, everything that swims is hoovered up into mile-long nets. Once on deck the valued fish are iced and stowed, the unwanted, dead species are thrown back into the sea. The swath of decimated sea bed a mile wide is left to fester, taking years, if ever, to regenerate and provide the habitat and ecosystem that the whole ocean food chain depends on.

The documentary has been criticised in some quarters of the media as unfair and unbalanced in some aspects and certainly, it’s an easy hit for filmmakers to show the images of the blood-red sea from the annual Faroes’ cull of pilot whales and dolphins. 

Although very emotive, certainly it was very hard to watch the slaughter of these beautiful creatures, in reality, it is perhaps no different to the carnage carried out in slaughterhouses on the land every day behind closed doors?  

Taking all into consideration I think this film does achieve its undoubted goal, to bring our attention to the dire consequences of humanities continuing appalling misuse of the lungs of the earth, the world’s oceans.

Brace yourselves, but watch it.

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