Just want to share a few thoughts from a quick excerpt of an interview with Phil Waller, Director of Extinction Soup, while we were at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival.
For those that don’t know, Phil and executive producer Stefanie Brendl made a movie documenting the battle to pass a shark fin ban in Hawaii. The film provides gorgeous footage and takes the viewer on an emotional ride as we see the beauty of sharks juxtaposed against the same animals being slaughtered in inhumane fashion. But I found the political battle particularly unnerving as it brought back memories of California’s own struggle to pass a shark fin ban only a few years ago. Just like in San Francisco, the fishing industry resorted to hiring lobbyists to declare the ban as racist attack on Chinese culture (If you still want to send him hate mail, the senator in San Francisco was Leland Yee).
"Almost nothing under the moon kills less people than sharks do!" - pw
Politics led our discussion to Western Australia where sharks are being slaughtered in the very waters they are supposed to be protected in. Public Safety, not culture, is the scapegoat for this political agenda, and it was while discussing the concept of trying to make people safe from sharks that Phil stated the glaringly obvious; not only do sharks kill a very small number of people, but they KILL LESS PEOPLE than almost ANYTHING ELSE on this planet. Repeat that in your head a few times. We’ve all heard the stats about coconuts and vending machines, etc., but I think the concept really sinks in when you try to list things that DON’T kill more people than sharks rather than what DO. How can public safety be a reason to kill sharks when it’s not enough of a reason to dispose of the rest of the offenders on the list?
Phil did a great job of being positive, but I’m obviously a bit of a pessimist when it comes to conservation and politics living happily together. But as he said, all we can do is keep trying and spreading the word because ignorance still outweighs knowledge and that can only change by sharing information. So, keep spreading the word and fighting the fight!
And yes, I know I look homeless in this interview. I’ll clean up when the film is over.