Days after the debut of the new Netflix documentary "Seaspiracy," the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) issued its response to the film, which portrayed the group's eco-label as a feckless, pay-to-play scheme that does nothing to protect marine fish resources.
The film on Monday was trending as one of the top 10 shows on Netflix, which has over 200 million subscribers across more than 190 countries.
Seaspiracy painted a grim picture of the global fishing industry in a disjointed mishmash of oversimplified and, in many cases, debunked environmental half-truths all funneling to the overall message: don’t eat fish, go vegan.
In its response, the MSC said the film's assertions about sustainable seafood are wrong.
"Research shows that fish stocks that are well-managed and sustainable, are also more productive in the long-term, meaning there is more seafood for our growing global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050," the group stated.
The NGO also defended its certification standard, which was called into question during the documentary.
"Contrary to what the filmmakers say, certification is not an easy process, and some fisheries spend many years improving their practices in order to reach our standard," the MCS wrote in a response posted on its web page.
"In fact, our analysis shows that the vast majority of fisheries that carry out pre-assessments against our criteria, do not meet these and need to make significant improvements to gain certification."
The MSC statement also strived to refute claims made in the film that the NGO is in the pocket of the fishing industry, and that the MSC certification does not address bycatch.
The group, however, said it does find some common ground with the film.
"While we disagree with much of what the Seaspiracy documentary-makers say, one thing we do agree with is that there is a crisis of overfishing in our oceans," the MSC wrote.
"However, millions around the world rely on seafood for their protein needs. With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the need to harness our natural resources more responsibly is more urgent than ever. Sustainable fishing has a vital role to play in securing those resources."
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI), which was not mentioned in the documentary or approached by the film's producers, last week issued its response to the film.
In a post on its website titled, "Seaspiracy: Recognizable Propaganda," the North American seafood trade association specifically refutes several of the more sensational claims in the film.
Referring to a widespread claim that the oceans would be devoid of fish by 2048, for example, NFI wrote: "They then dive headlong into an embrace of the idea that the oceans will be empty by 2048, which is based on a completely debunked 2006 statistic, refuted by none other than the author of the original study. The 2048 statistic was put to rest by a follow-up report in the Journal Science released in 2009 under the title 'New hope for fisheries.'"
NFI concludes its assessment of the film by saying, "the film sputters to a close with what is essentially a predictable commercial for highly processed plant-based alternative products."