The Importance of Sharks

Rob Stewart’s final film, Sharkwater Extinction, opens in theatres Oct. 19.

Rob Stewart’s final film, Sharkwater Extinction, opens in theatres Oct. 19.

There’s a film that’s near and dear to our hearts that we wanted to share with our wonderful SeaLuxe people.

Sharkwater Extinction screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival last Thursday (don’t worry if you missed out – it will be in theatres across the country Oct. 19th). The film follows Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart as he exposes the massive illegal shark fin industry, along with the political corruption behind it, that is sadly leading to the extinction of sharks.

Sharkwater Extinction is Stewart’s third on the topic; the first was 2006’s Sharkwater that exposed the devastating issue of shark finning used in shark fin soup. His second film, Revolution, continued Stewart’s quest of educating people about the ocean, focusing on ocean acidification. Thanks to his films, the cruel practice of shark finning was exposed and led to changes in worldwide laws and public policy. Shark finning involves the fin being cut off the shark. The sharks are often still alive and discarded back into the ocean. Unable to swim, they sink to the bottom and die of suffocation or are eaten by predators.

While more than 90 countries have banned shark finning and the trade of shark products, sharks are still being fished to extinction which is why Stewart decided to do another film.

Stewart travels across the globe to document the demise of shark populations. He flies drones over the mob-owned fin-harvesting docks in Costa Rica, takes his film crew into the dark waters at night to film poor creatures caught in gill nets, as well as putting hidden cameras into freezers of fishing boats. In his film, Stewart explains how the demise of the shark will throw off the ocean’s ecosystem as they play a big part in regulating sealife populations. An outrageous 100-150 million sharks are killed every year (only half are reported). Their population has declined more than 90 per cent in the last 40 years.

“Conservation is the preservation of human life on planet earth, and that above all, is worth fighting for,” is one of Stewart’s famous quotes.

Tragically, Stewart drowned at the age of 37 during the making of the film while diving in the Florida Keys last year. The film was completed by the Rob Stewart Foundation. Stewart lives on through this work, as well as his conservation group, Team Sharkwater.

We encourage you to watch the film as it, in turn, encourages us all to look at the world with a newfound sense of wonder.