Guy Harvey Film, Research Inspires North Vancouver Mayor to Support Shark Fin Ban

October 15, 2012

NOTE: The following article appears courtesy of Huffington Post Canada.

A wave of bylaws banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products has swept across the province of British Columbia this past month. North Vancouver joined Port Moody and Coquitlam in introducing a ban on shark fin soup in restaurants, a popular Asian dish that supports a vast industry that is decimating shark populations worldwide and threatens many species with extinction.

Interestingly, Artists for Conservation played an important role in this policy change. Last year the mayor of the city of North Vancouver, Darrell Mussatto, attended the first annual Artists for Conservation Festival on Grouse Mountain. It was there where he first met legendary marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey, a leading advocate for the shark-fin ban, and founder of the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI).

Dr. Harvey’s documentary “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” premiered at the festival last November and Mayor Mussatto had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Harvey about his efforts to save sharks from extinction through his film. That encounter inspired him to support a shark fin ban in his city last month.

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Excuse Me Waiter, But There’s an Endangered Species in my Bowl of Soup!

September 4, 2012

NOTE: The following editorial by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag was originally written for National Geographic’s “Ocean Views” blog. Dr. Hammerschlag is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and recipient of multiple grants from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

Would you eat a bowl of soup if you knew that is was made with minced endangered species? What about if it was also packed full with neurotoxins that can cause degenerative brain disease? Still hungry?

This is the case when it comes to shark fin soup, primarily a Chinese delicacy. The soup itself has no color, taste, or smell and requires addition of chicken, beef, or pork broth to add flavor. However, the cartilage from the shark fin provides texture to the soup. So, why consume it? Because it is a cultural sign of wealth and traditionally consumed at celebratory events including weddings.

Sadly, the demand for shark fin is driving several shark populations toward extinction. Tens of millions of sharks are killed annually for their fins!  However, many shark species are late to mature, have few young and reproduce very infrequently – they are simply being removed faster than they can reproduce. For example, studies suggest that some hammerhead species in the northwest Atlantic have declined over 89% between 1986 and 2000. A new study, which carried out DNA testing on shark fin soup served in 14 U.S. cities, revealed that endangered shark species, including hammerheads, were being served up at local restaurants.

Shark meat is rarely consumed. Their tissues contain high levels of urea (as in the main substance found in urine) that helps them osmoregulate in the oceans (jargon that basically means maintaining water balance so they don’t become too dehydrated)[4]. This makes their meat, for the most part, worthless. In contrast, trading in shark fins is extremely lucrative. A single bowl of soup can cost hundreds of dollars. So, when a boat goes out to harvest shark fins, they would prefer not to waste their precious cargo space on massive shark bodies, instead keeping only their fins. So, in most parts of the world, fisherman catch the sharks, hack off their fins, and discard the rest of the shark’s body at sea, leaving them to die on the ocean floor. This act is called “finning.”

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Bonefishing Blog Weighs in on Killing Sharks for Sport

August 9, 2012

NOTE: The following editorial was published on the blog “Bonefish on the Brain“: 

I get an email from Field and Stream and the subject includes “587 Pound NY Thresher Shark.”

I like Thresher Sharks. They look kind of cool with the extra long tail. There is even a Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project outfit.

I had a feeling I wouldn’t like what I would see, but I open the email anyway and this is what I saw…

I am not a fan of killing sharks just for the sake of killing sharks. In fact, I’m pretty firmly in the “don’t do that shit” camp. Sharks are a pretty key part of the ecosystem out there, top predators usually are, and taking them out of the system just so you can get this picture makes me a bit pissed.  Thresher sharks don’t kill people, although I did read about someone that may have been killed by the tail of one of these sharks as they were pulling it in a boat somewhere.  There was zero cause to kill the thing.

I think most fly fisherman would likely NOT have killed the beast, but the non-fly Field & Stream subscribers likely would and that is why they presented it front and center in the email. I hope more of the C&R ethic can make its way into the bait and kill crowd, but I don’t know how that will happen.

I applaud the Shark Free Marina Initiative effort for trying to get there.

These are American Bison skulls… killed for fun, driving the Bison to the brink of extinction.


This Film Will Change the Way You Look at Sharks – Forever!

July 7, 2012

“This is Your Ocean – Sharks”, the award-winning and internationally-acclaimed shark documentary starring Guy Harvey, Wyland and Jim Abernethy, is now available for purchase for the first time. Order the film here, and enter coupon code “Emma” for $5 off the purchase price.


China Bans Shark Fin Soup from Official Banquets

July 3, 2012

Big news from Ground Zero in the battle over shark fin soup and the international shark fin trade! Chinese media is reporting that the Chinese government has banned shark fin soup from being served at all official government banquets. The ban will not be immediate, but the move is a huge victory nonetheless for the anti-shark finning movement. Here’s the full story from CNN.com:

Hong Kong (CNN) — China is planning to ban shark fin soup from being served at official banquets, in a sign the country may be losing its taste for the expensive delicacy.

According to Chinese media, the Government Office Administration of the State Council said the ban could take up to three years to implement and would help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.

The move followed a proposal made during the National People’s Congress in March this year.

Bertha Lo of the campaign group Hong Kong Shark Foundation said the move could potentially reduce the amount of sharks killed given that China is the biggest consumer of shark fin products.

“I think it will have an impact,” she said. “The government in China is powerful and if it takes the lead on this issue, I don’t see why others shouldn’t follow suit.”

Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are estimated to be killed each year, according to a 2006 academic study* quoted on the website of Lo’s group. Their carcasses are usually discarded and campaigners say the practice is wasteful and cruel.

The World Wildlife Fund says that 181 species of shark are under threat, up from 15 in 1996.

Shark’s fin soup is widely served in restaurants in Chinese communities worldwide and is a dish often served at weddings to mark the importance of the occasion and impress the couple’s extended families and friends.

But the custom has become less popular among a younger generation of diners, who are more environmentally conscious, says Lo.

Last year, the operator of the high-end Peninsula hotel chain said it would remove shark fin products from its menus and Shangri-la Hotels made a similar move this year.

In Beijing, the five-star Swissotel has also stopped serving shark fin, according to the China Daily.

Outside Asia, legislation banning shark fin has been introduced in five U.S. states including California, which this month also banned the French duck liver delicacy foie gras on the grounds of cruelty.

In China, the campaign against shark fin products has gained steam following pledges by celebrities, such as former NBA star Yao Ming, not to eat the delicacy.

* The academic study cited in this article was conducted by the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Dr. Shelley Clarke.


Award-Winning Shark Film “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” Now Available for Purchase

July 3, 2012

Limited Time Discount Offer for Guy Harvey Fans

The internationally-acclaimed shark documentary, “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” – winner of the prestigious MacGillivray Freeman Films Special Achievement Award in Environmental Filmmaking at the Newport Beach Film Festival – is now available for purchase for the first time. For a limited time, Guy Harvey fans get a $5 discount off the purchase price by entering “Emma” as the coupon code when ordering.

Three of the world’s top artists shatter your perception of sharks in this award-winning film festival hit. THIS IS YOUR OCEAN: SHARKS follows Wyland, Dr. Guy Harvey and Jim Abernethy as they plunge into the waters of the Bahamas to paint a new picture of sharks. There you’ll learn why it’s critical to protect the ocean’s remaining sharks – and what will happen if we don’t. You’ll also meet Emma, a 14-foot tiger shark. With breathtaking footage shot on location around the world, and break- through discoveries, it’s an adventure that will have you seeing sharks very differently.


Venezuela Bans Shark Finning, Establishes Shark Sanctuary

June 22, 2012

NOTE: This post was excerpted from an article by Douglas Main on OurAmazingPlanet. Click here to read the full article.

Some much-needed good news for sharks has come from Venezuela this week: The South American country announced it is banning shark finning in its waters and has established a new shark sanctuary.

The country became the last in the Americas to outlaw the practice of cutting off the fins of live sharks and tossing the animals back into the ocean to slowly die.

The country also has created a sanctuary where several important shark species breed, outlawing commercial shark fishing there. The sanctuary consists of 1,440 square miles (3,730 square kilometers) of the Caribbean Sea surrounding the Los Roques Archipelago, a popular tourist destination.