Posted by: jauipop | June 17, 2008

All About Sharkwater Part 1

As mentioned in my very first post, Sharkwater pretty much renewed my food choices. First, I started off with seafood, but then I realised that since I’m cutting out seafood, I might as well go the full hog and cut out meat too.

Sharkwater is a great documentary that quashes old, stagnant and archaic beliefs that sharks are dangerous creatures. In actual fact, sharks are timid and shy creatures when it comes to humans. They are the number 1 predator of the ocean, but have no interest in humans at all. As said in Sharkwater, sharks only kill 5 humans a year, whereas tigers and elephants kill 100 (other statistics about guns don’t even need to be mentioned, because the point that is being made is fairly obvious). Sharks only bite humans when they’re curious as to what we actually are and the bite is rarely fatal.

I myself have seen a white tip shark when diving in the Maldives last month. It was quite a distance away on the sand (we were in the coral), but I was stunned at how calm I actually was. After watching silly thriller movies like Jaws where sharks are bloodthirsty demons, I would have thought I would have been petrified. In actual fact, I was filled with a sense of calm and it was certainly an experience just watching the majestic creature swim past.

Directed and ‘starring’ Rob Stewart, Sharkwater documents how Rob exposed the sharkfinning industry and how it is eventually going to effect oceanic ecosystems and in turn will effect the planet’s ecosystem. He also exposes the fact that illegal finning happens everyday in protected waters. Long line fishing is absolutely horrid and a highly wasteful practice, but it is commonly used when it comes to catching sharks. Up to 40 million sharks are killed this way per year.

Rob points towards Asia as the place where demand is highest. Some people might find this ‘racist’ or ‘offensive’ and point fingers back at America where shark cartilage are also sold in ‘alternative therapy’ outlets. Being a Malaysian, and having grown up in a culture where sharksfin soup was part of my lifestyle whenever we had large family banquets, I don’t dare to point fingers back. There is really no point blaming other people and looking elsewhere to lay fault. We in the Chinese culture need to face the facts and hopefully our race will eventually stop thinking that sharksfin is a much needed delicacy in important Chinese dinners.

Watching this documentary is essential to our understanding and will start a journey (or dare I say, movement) towards sharksfin free Chinese weddings and dinners.

When stripped down, sharksfin soup is basically a tasteless cartilage cooked with either a chicken or pork broth. All the taste comes from the broth and none from the cartilage. The cartilage only offers some texture and the myth of a long life and a strengthened immune system. There is actually no scientific evidence that proves these claims.

I will write more on what solutions I can come up with and what solutions organisations recommend in the following posts. Meanwhile, find yourself a copy of Sharkwater and watch it!

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