Dermot O’Leary clashed with Seaspiracy creator over the fish industry during a tense discussion on Tuesday’s This Morning.
The presenter, 47, argued that sustainable fishing is possible – after owning his own restaurant, Fishy Fishy, in the past – while filmmaker Ali Tabrizi declared: ‘I think we need to be leaving your oceans alone at this point.’
The eye-opening Netflix programme documents the issues surrounding the multibillion-dollar seafood business and its links with ecological catastrophes.
‘I prided myself on being sustainable’: Dermot O’Leary clashed with Seaspiracy creator over the fish industry during a tense discussion on Tuesday’s This Morning
Joined by co-star Alison Hammond and fisherwoman Ashley Mullenger, the broadcaster explained: ‘I was a partner in a fish restaurant in Brighton for seven years and we prided ourselves on being sustainable.
‘In those seven years, we never served cod as our fish and chips once. We served dogfish which you market as rock salmon, we served whiting and pollock.
‘All of these we made sure we sourced sustainably, so there is a way of doing this Ali, do you agree?’
Shaking his head in disagreement, the passionate producer responded: ‘Sometimes you could get by-catch and say well let’s just keep it and that will be sustainable but all that means is that the population of say dogfish starts getting depleted.
‘I think we need to be leaving your oceans alone’: The presenter, 47, argued that sustainable fishing is possible – after owning his own restaurant in the past – while Ali Tabrizi disagreed
Shocking: The controversial documentary about mass fishing which shows dolphins being slaughtered and salmon infested with chlamydia has left viewers in tears
‘We made sure we sourced sustainably’: The broadcaster was joined by co-star Alison Hammond and fisherwoman Ashley Mullenger as they went back and forth about the topic
Business: Dermot’s eatery in Brighton shut its doors in 2016 after nearly a decade, three years after its sister restaurant in Poole closed down
Heartbreaking: The British director travelled to the Faroe Islands where he witnessed a ‘sustainable’ whale cull, called a grind
‘Time and time again we have this ‘adapt to diminishment’, the cod goes down so we move on to the next fish. That population goes down, then we move on to the next fish.’
‘So those measures might be better but ultimately I think we need to be leaving your oceans alone at this point.’
Dermot’s eatery in Brighton shut its doors in 2016 after nearly a decade, three years after its sister restaurant in Poole closed down.
The host told The Sun at the time: ‘Sadly, we decided that Fishy Fishy Poole should cease trading owing to the current financial climate.’
What is bycatch?
Bycatch is defined as when a species unintentionally caught by fishing vessels that are actually trying to fish something else.
50million sharks a year die after being caught in trawler nets, while 40 per cent of all marine life caught by the fishing industry is tossed back as lifeless bycatch.
In 2015, a terrifying new report has found that 98 per cent of canned fish sold by Britain’s best-known purveyors, John West, are caught by methods which indiscriminately kill other marine life — including dolphins.
Some supermarkets try to ensure that their own-brand tuna is caught using the dolphin-friendly, traditional pole-and-line method where fishermen catch tuna one by one with a pole, line and hook, ensuring that no other marine life is harmed — known as bycatch in the industry — in the process.
Ashley echoed Dermot’s comments as she said from her fishing boat in Norfolk: ‘I think there’s a lot this industry can do and I think there’s a lot people already are doing.
‘There’s some great initiatives surrounding recycling, the nets and things like that which do wash up.
The controversial documentary about mass fishing which shows dolphins being slaughtered and salmon infested with chlamydia has left viewers in tears.
Ali initially said he wanted to expose the damage of plastic in the ocean, but went on to explore the human impact of mass fishing, from the 50 million sharks who die each year after being caught in a net to lice-infested farmed salmon.
One shocking scene in the film documents a whales cull in the Faro islands which sees locals slaughtering dozens of animals for their meat and blubber.
Heartbroken fans were horrified by the film, with many saying they would never eat seafood again.
The director began his investigation in Japan to witness a dolphin cull in Taiji, where the animals are driven into a small bay before being captured to be used in entertainment industries,.
Ali found himself hounded by police and was left feeling as though they didn’t record the activities of the fishermen.
He found that for every dolphin being caught, 12 more were killed – even though there’s no market for dolphin meat.
Tamara Arenovich of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society argued: ‘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 to catch.
‘Essentially the slaughter of these dolphins is a reaction to the overfishing that’s happening here in Taiji.’
Terrifying: In another shocking scene, a whistle-blower told Ali he filmed salmon being eaten alive by sea lice in a Scottish fish farm (pictured)
The filmmaker documented a similar practice in the Faroe Islands, after witnessing the ‘Grindadráp’, where hundreds of whales and dolphins are driven on to beaches and hacked to death as part on ancient hunt.
After seeing the devastating impact that overfishing could have on local marine life, Ali set out to learn more about ‘sustainable fishing.’
However he was shocked when several experts argued there was no such thing as ‘sustainable fisheries.’
One activist who worked with the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society, a non-profit marine protection organisation revealed the extraordinary amount of animals killed in the fishing industry each year.
Dolphins feed on the same prey as tuna, and commonly swim alongside them. In some cases, fishermen even follow them to find the fish. The result is that, when nets are used, dolphins are often swept up as well.
Helicopters and speedboats are used to spot shoals of tuna, and huge nets are suspended in the sea like a wall to catch them — along with everything else. Another gruesome method is the use of so-called Fish Aggravating Devices — tethered buoys or large, raft-like objects in the sea, which attract small fish to the area.
Vast nets the size of football pitches are placed below these devices, and are drawn up when the fish have congregated.
Lamya Essemlali said: ‘On the Atlantic French coast, up to 10,000 dolphins are being killed every year by by-catch.
‘This is ten times more than dolphins being killed than in Taiji and no one knew about it,’ she added.
She claimed: ‘This has been going on for at least 30 years because the French government has been very effective in hiding the problem.’
Meanwhile Sea Shepherd captain Peter Hammaerstedt explained: ‘One of the most shocking things people don’t realise is that the greatest threat to whales and dolphins is commercial fishing.
‘Over 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed every single year as by-catch of industrial fishing,’ he added.
Even those fisheries labelled sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or ‘Dolphin-Safe’ have been found to massacre huge numbers of porpoises, seabirds and other animals as bycatch.
Peter said: ‘For those of us who spend as much time as sea as I do, we realised that labels often obscure what’s really happening at sea,’Peter said.
Ali investigated the Sea Shepherd claims and went to interview Mark J. Palmer, the founder of Dolphin Safe Tuna and the Earth Island Institution, who admitted there was no way of guaranteeing that no dolphins had been killed while fishing for the tuna in the can.
He explained that ‘nobody’ could guarantee dolphins would not be harmed in the fishing for Tuna, saying: Once you’re out there in the ocean, how do you know what they’re doing?’
Meanwhile Rick O’ Barry, founder of Dolphin Project said: ‘There’s nobody out there witnessing whether they kill dolphins or not…What they do, is they take the captain’s word for it.’
Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said there was ‘no such thing’ as sustainable fishing and called it ‘a marketing phase’, explaining: ‘It’s impossible…there’s simply not enough fish to justify that.’
Professor Callum Roberts, a marine scientist, oceanographer and author, also claimed that non-profits such as the MSC couldn’t prove the fish were being sustainably produced.
He claimed: ‘They have certified fisheries who produce astonishing levels of by-catch. And those are ignored because the level of kill is considered to be sustainable in itself. The label on the tin isn’t worth a damn in some cases,’ he added.
Ali also travelled to Thailand to speak with people forced into slavery on fishing vessels. There are often 51,000 boats competing for dwindling fish stocks along the coasts.
Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation said: ‘They had to find a way of fishing evermore cheaply to catch fewer fish.
‘That’s where the inherent vulnerability begins. Most of those boats would not be economic without this free, cheap labour.’
One former enslaved fisherman claimed he was enslaved to work for years on the boats, explaining: ‘I was so depressed I tried to take my own life three time. On the ship I was on, sometimes they kept dead human bodies in the freezers after killing them.’
Later, Ali travelled to the Liberian coast where he saw the military attempting to protect sea wildlife against pirate fishermen.
There, he was given access to a fishing boat and inspected their stock, where viewers could see sharks, sea turtles and dolphins being caught in the net among more commercial fish species.
Calling the ships ‘floating slaughterhouses’, he continued: ‘I just don’t see how you could possibly enforce sustainable fishing laws with all these boats this far out at sea.’
And it wasn’t just in Africa that Ali found a problem with the fishing industry – he also travelled to Scotland to investigate fish farming, which is often viewed as a more sustainable alternative.
Ali met with whistle-blower Corin Smith, who founded Inside Scottish Salmon feedlots, and claimed he was able to film salmon being eaten alive by sea lice in one of the fish farms.
George Clark, MSC Programme Director UK & Ireland said in a statement responding to the claims in the documentary: ‘Fisheries certified to the MSC Standard must provide evidence they are actively minimising unwanted catch.
‘Fisheries that need to improve in this area, can be set goals that they have to meet in order to keep their certificates or risk being suspended.
‘We believe the Icelandic fishery mentioned in Seaspiracy falls into this latter category, George added.
It was suspended from the MSC programme because of bycatch issues, which it then worked hard across five years to resolve with the help of international conservation bodies,’ he concluded.
Details: An activist for Sea Shepherd claimed that fisheries were killed 10,000 dolphins off the French coast each year