By Ben Hartshorn
Last month, a documentary portraying the legacy and message left behind by late Toronto filmmaker/activist Rob Stewart captivated people across the world and increased awareness of the devastation of an ecosystem unbeknownst to many. Recently released to theatres across Canada, “Sharkwater: Extinction” is the sequel to the 2006 film “Sharkwater”. It’s an eye-opening documentary about the devastating impact the million-dollar shark finning and shark hunting industries have on the populations of these now endangered species across the world.
According to the film, it is estimated that over 150 million sharks are killed each year due to high demand for their valuable fins and meat. Shark fin soup, a popular delicacy throughout many Asian countries (yet bearing no nutritional value), is responsible for the killings of thousands of sharks daily, with each fin selling for up to $200 US in China.
Shark meat is also commonly found in many of our food products, pet food products, fertilizers and even cosmetics. “We’ve studied the top cosmetics in North America—and have shocking results to present to you! We’ve been smearing endangered top predators on our faces every day without knowing it”, Stewart points out. Throughout the movie, the 38-year-old conservationist highlights the importance of protecting these creatures and other aquatic species across our planet. Sharks have been around for longer than trees have; their existence dating back over 400 million years. However, in the last 40 years, the shark population has decreased by 90% due to human impact, with many species dangerously close to extinction. This begs the question—are sharks really the monsters here?
Following Stewart’s previous movie, many actions have been taken around the world to help put an end to shark fishing. Shark finning has now been banned throughout much of the world. Over 90 countries have put a stop to the mutilation of sharks for the purposes of their fins since the original “Sharkwater” was released in 2006. The importation rates of shark fins to China have decreased by over 70%.
People fought for the protection of sharks and are continuing to do so, with “Sharkwater: Extinction” shedding light on the issue once more. However, Rob Stewart’s work isn’t finished yet—shark fishing continues to dwindle the shark population at an alarming rate.
Last year, as the movie was being filmed, an unfortunate diving accident led to Rob Stewart’s tragic death. The legacy and message he left behind will continue to change the world, motivating even more people to help make a difference and save the environment.
After watching this astonishing documentary last weekend, I’ve learned there’s a difference between knowledge and experience; the only way to understand just how serious of an issue shark finning and fishing is worldwide is to see it for yourself.
Words do not do this movie justice. If you have not seen “Sharkwater: Extinction” in theatres yet, I highly recommend honouring Rob Stewart’s dedication and continuing his journey and his fight by watching his story in theatres today. Only with awareness can we demand change.
“There is simply no more important. Conservation is the preservation of life on earth, and that, above all else, is worth fighting for.” – Rob Stewart
Join in the action and help save these amazing creatures at Sharkwater.com.