Fin Free Work To Protect Sharks, Reduce Demand For Shark Fin Products

By Aaron Brophy 2/6/17 |

Rob Stewart — photo via Fin Free
When Toronto filmmaker and shark protection activist Rob Stewart was missing last week one of the first organizations to step up and search for him was Fin Free, a group he was part of dedicated to eliminating the global demand for shark fins.

While the search for Stewart, 37, had tragic results — he died Jan. 31 in the waters near Alligator Reef, Florida where he was filming for his latest project Sharkwater: Extinction — Fin Free's important work will continue.

The organization, which was formed in 2005, estimates the demand for shark fin soup and shark-related products has caused a 90 per cent reduction in the world's shark population.

"At the current rate of fishing we will destroy most shark populations beyond the point of recovery in the very near future," says a statement on the Fin Free website. "Whether shark fishing can be done in a sustainable way is still unclear. The evidence suggests it is not. But to find out we must give current shark populations a chance to recover by curbing the trade of fins and by reducing the demand for shark fin soup and shark meat."

One of Fin Free's key initiatives revolves around the getting shark fin soup and related products banned around the world. The European Union prohibits shark finning as well as countries like Taiwan and Palau. In Canada and the U.S. a patchwork of local and federal laws continue to reduce shark fin trade. China is the number one consumer of shark-related products.

"Shark finning violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as more than 95 per cent of the shark is wasted," says Fin Free.

The goal of Stewart's Sharkwater: Extinction film was to figure out the reason behind the 80 million shark deaths happening annually that science is unable to explain. Stewart's previous films Sharkwater and Revolution were amongst the most successful Canadian documentaries ever made.

Fin Free's other major initiative is asking people to "Take The Pledge" to go fin free. Those doing so vow to never buy or consume shark fin products, avoid restaurants that sell shark, refuse to support businesses that trade in shark fin, and work within their community to find a way to support shark conservation.

Watch the Sharkwater: Extinction Kickstarter trailer:

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