A climate protestor was forcibly removed from an upmarket Weymouth seafood restaurant after attempting to speak with Sir David Attenborough as he dined.
Marine biologist Emma Smart was reportedly “dragged” out of Catch at the Old Fish Market on November 17. She had been trying to engage Attenborough in a discussion about the climate crisis. She also wanted to ask him to use his platform to call for vital food system changes.
Video footage of Smart being removed shows her shouting: “David, I’m a scientist. David, please.” Moments later, while face down on the pavement and being handcuffed, she stated that she is taking action for the future of her children.
Smart, also an Animal Rebellion activist, attempted to pass a letter to Attenborough. In it, she asked him to meet with her for five minutes “for all life on Earth.”
Weymouth, on the English Channel coast of England, is thought to be at significant risk of sea level changes, as a result of the climate emergency. Flood risks have increased to the point where Smart predicts that the town will be largely uninsurable in coming years.
Seafood and the climate crisis
Industrial fishing is intrinsically connected to the climate emergency.
Massive catching operations severely deplete various species and contribute to a biodiversity crisis. Discarded fishing equipment also poses a serious threat to marine life. This comes in the form of altering their habitats, and therefore their life spans. Simply entangling animals for the remainder of their lives is also a consequence.
Emissions from fishing vessels can’t be ignored either, as they contribute to a cycle of marine destruction.
As global heating increases due to greenhouse gas emissions, Earth’s oceans are getting warmer. Since 1901, it’s been estimated that the global sea surface temperature has increased by 1.5°F. This is because oceans contain 90 percent of the heat created by human-induced global warming. Such changes impact currents and climate patterns globally, thereby setting in motion a cycle of destruction and further biodiversity loss.
For these reasons, amongst others, animal and climate justice group Animal Rebellion is calling for support to help fishing communities, such as Weymouth, to transition to a plant-based food system.
The organization also told Dorset Live that it was disappointed to see leading climate activist Attenborough dining in a luxury seafood restaurant. It added that the location charges a minimum of £65 per person.
“The Catch is a symbol of excess and inequality in today’s world. Weymouth has average wages amongst the lowest in The UK and is at huge risk of sea level rises. Yet this restaurant still continues business as usual amongst the worst cost-of-living crisis many will ever experience,” Smart said in a statement.
Attenborough’s climate activism
Through his numerous nature shows, Attenborough has increasingly been discussing the climate crisis.
Though he has ditched red meat from his diet, Attenborough admitted last year that he still eats fish and chicken. We don’t know what diet Attenborough follows now, or what he was eating at the restaurant.
Activists – including Smart – want to see the beloved British presenter setting more of an example by not eating at seafood restaurants and being vocal about the need to move to a plant-based diet.
“We don’t need another documentary series showing us that we are losing, some 150 species going extinct globally every single day. What we need is action. Sir David is in a unique position to tell the truth about the biodiversity crisis. He has the chance to leave a legacy of love, care, and of being the forerunner of a better world,” Smart concluded.