Monday, February 9, 2009

On the film 'Sharkwater'...

I have been meaning to see the movie 'Sharkwater', since I learned of it's release. I finally had the chance to view it over the weekend, along with my better half. The photography was absolutely marvellous, particularily the underwater shots. I feel the movie succeeded in what it meant to accomplish, which is sounding an alarm concerning the unchecked depletion of the world's shark populations.

Although there is no way to possibly verify the figures, shark populations are being decimated throughout the world's oceans. There is virtually no safe haven. Governments are being coerced and bought out by those running the largely black market in shark fins. The Taiwanese mafia and mainland China, among others. 16 countries have banned shark finning. 16 out of 195 countries. It has been reckoned that the only other illegal business in the world that rivals the shark finning market for profits, is that of illegal drugs.

Longlining itself certainly ought to be banned outright. It is an unconscienable way to fish and results in the death and wanton destruction of millions of marine creatures per year. For those of you who want to learn more on this reprehensible practise, visit the link below.

The main problem in all of this, as witnessed by the article on Wikipedia itself, is that nobody really cares about the sharks. THE main fish populations being decimated by longlining, are indeed sharks. This Wiki article does not even make mention sharks, let alone that they are the species most often targeted by this type of fishing, never mind by-catch species. Sharks are considered by most people as disposable, they frighten us, yet their place in our oceans' ecosystems is only just being defined. The repercussions of ridding the oceans of it's apex predator species, would have far ranging and deadly implications for all of us. At least 80% of the world's oxygen supply comes from the oceans. It is generated not by the waters themselves, but by the ecosystem that these waters support.

By killing off the world's shark populations, we are throwing the oceans' ecosystem out of balance, threatening our very own supply of oxygen. What is the most infuriating aspect of this, is that we all know what we're doing. We all know what's going on!! The governments know, the criminals who indulge in these illegal fisheries know, the people who buy the shark fins know. Everybody knows... but nobody wants to stop it. For the sake of human greed, we are willing to gleefully, stupidly, insanely assist in our own demise.

You'll find more information on the site below. I'm not asking anyone to contribute any money to this, but you may want to check out some of the other sites listed at the bottom of this site:

I will have to begrudgingly extend kudos to Paul Watson for his part in trying to dissuade illegal shark finners in Guatamalan waters. According to the narrative, the Guatamalan government 'asked' Paul Watson to step in and detain these illegal shark fisherman. Why a foreign government would 'ask' a Canadian-registered vessel (the Sea Shepherd Society vessel he was captaining was Canadian...) to detain illegal fishermen in their territorial waters, is beyond me. It's not like Watson or his vessel, or the group they represented, had any legal authority in Guatamalan or international waters. I would take this explanation for their being there with more than a grain of salt. Paul Watson and his ilk have long been known for inventing their own press. The concept that any legitimate government authority, Guatamalan or otherwise, would actually ask a known criminal for assistance in enforcing the law, is as ludicrous as it gets.

Then again, young producer/director Rob Stewart who hails from Toronto, no less... is a very impressionable lad, no doubt. Regardless of what he puts forth as his academic pedigree. He may have been obliged to reiterate Mr.Watson's hand-cobbled excuse for intervening in this illegal fishery, or may simply have been star-struck at being able to work alongside such a Greenpeace-approved 'heavy'. At one point in the film, he is seen in a hospital where he tells his viewers that he has contracted the 'flesh eating disease'. No doubt he has picked up an infection from somewhere, assumedly through small cuts on his feet. I seriously doubt however that it was in fact 'Necrotizing Fasciitis'. His leg would have been lopped off so fast it would have made his head spin...

Nevertheless, he attempted to disrupt their shark finning operations, even ramming their boat. (The contact was side to side, so no major damage was either intended or done...). In the end, they agreed to be towed back in by Watson and his crew. In the interim, the skipper of the illegal fishing vessel was on the phone and obviously had friends in high places. As they entered Guatamalan waters, they were accosted by a Guatamalan gunboat and placed under arrest. No, not the fishermen who had been fishing illegally, but Watson and his crew.

Apparently they had stumbled upon a business funded by the Taiwanese mafia, who was buying off the Guatamalan government to look the other way. Shark finning is supposedly banned in Guatamala. Yet there were scores of illegal shark finning companies operating all along the waterfront, the roofs of their tin-covered buildings covered with thousands of fins as they dried in the sun.

The movie was an eye-opener. I knew this was being conducted here and there around the world, but if the facts presented in the movie are legitimate, I had far underestimated the scope of this illegal trade and the degree of world government duplicity in allowing it to flourish. Even the Galapagos, a heretofore pristine ecological site, had been blackmailed to agree to a commercial shark fishery, after the locals had threatened to kill off all of the giant Galapagos tortoises. Up until then, this had been one of the very few places in the world where sharks had actually been protected.

Greed... dollar signs dancing in their heads... that is all the motivation it takes for the uneducated to drive species after species to the very brink of extinction and beyond. It's simply shameful. I feel no conflict whatsoever between condemning this shark fishery, while still fully endorsing the Atlantic seal hunt. I do not, cannot logically draw any parallels between this and the seal hunt. There is no comparison between the two events.

One is localized, strictly regulated and overseen, used to regulate a burgeoning species which has virtually no natural predators. The other is conducted on a global scale, virtually in secret, with no regulation, no supervision and no accountability. And that I feel is the difference between being ecologically aware and simply embracing a cause because it's trendy.

No comments: