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When 7-year-old Kassidy heard that over 100,000,00 sharks a year were being killed just for their fins, she jumped into action. For this 1st grade student from Port Carling, asking her family and friends to sign the petition to save sharks simply wasn’t enough. In three short days she gave a presentation in every classroom at Algonquin Ridge Elementary in Barrie, collecting over 600 signatures to support shark fin ban legislation in Toronto.
For as long as I can remember, sharks have been portrayed in the media as monsters. The film Jaws sealed their fate – from that point forward, all sharks became insatiable man-eaters. The reality of sharks is quite the opposite. Sharks are incredibly sophisticated animals generally uninterested in people. Of the over 500 species of sharks, only a handful have ever been known to bite humans. Every year, 7-10 billion people swim in the ocean, of those 70 – 100 people are bitten by sharks, most of those only requiring stitches. An average of only 5 people die; when sharks do make mistakes and bite people, they rarely remove flesh. If sharks wanted to eat people, they would, and those numbers would skyrocket.
When I set out to make Sharkwater, I wanted people to see what I saw, an incredible undersea world that is so foreign to most of the planet. I had no idea it would become a human drama that would take over four years, span 15 countries, and nearly end my life. I couldn’t have imagined sea battles with shark poachers, boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia, espionage, corrupt court systems, charges of attempted murder, or that I’d contract West Nile disease, dengue fever, tuberculosis, or flesh-eating disease, never mind all four.
Rob Stewart and leading environmental NGOs, including United Conservationists, launch a summer long "Celebrate Sharks" campaign and coalition to ban shark fins in Toronto.