Coming from writer/director Eli Roth and Discovery+ Is the shocking look inside the world of creatures of the oceans with FIN.
Each year there are 100,000,000 sharks (yes, that is the correct number) killed worldwide. This is bringing about an effect throughout the world’s oceans. Writer and director Eli Roth, one of the masters of horror, shares the story of where he has gotten to with the movies he has created, directed and brought to fans.
He admits that his only fear is of sharks thanks to the 1975 film JAWS and let’s face it, that film scared most of us out of the water for a long time. Yet Roth also admits to being equally fascinated by the sharp toothed ‘monsters’ of the sea. So, it seems only fitting that Roth would take the talk show seat with Shark After Dark during the Discovery Channels annual and highly anticipated Shark Week.
Learning that sharks evolved over 400 million years ago, scientists hail them as ‘doctors of the ocean’ and that they are necessary for our own survival. In fact, they balance ecosystems in ways that when disrupted, may not be able to be reversed.
Roth has the opportunity to actually get into the water with sharks in the Bahamas. Facing his fears, he came to understand who they really are and their social structure. He also learned that the sharks that are killed is all to provide fin for shark fin soup. Twenty-five species of sharks are dangerously close to extinction because there is nothing stopping it.
This journey is about changing the perception of sharks and to do that, he must dive deeper, if you will, to learn about those that are finning the sharks. Starting in Mexico where fishing shark is legal, and nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to witness for himself.
In Hong Kong, Roth finds himself in the city where fifty percent of the caught shark fin comes in. It comes into the city and makes it way into China. Trying to expose the fin trade, a group called Sea Shephard is trying to find the illegality of the fin trade. Labeling the boxes inconspicuously, customs can only manage one percent of what comes into port.
Using the CITIES treaty, it becomes important to discover the data that shows the possible extinction of a shark species. Shark fin soup became a delicacy of Emperors and then became something to show how wealthy someone is. In fact, what is found is the unsanitary conditions of how shark fins are dried.
Roth finds himself in a restauraunt in Hong Kong that makes the soup and also discovers the truth about what it takes to make it. He discovers an ad campaign that stopped shark fin soup from being served by politicians and banquets. Unfortunately, the demand for the soup spread outside China.
In the United States, the fishing industry also has their hand in it by financing and blocking legislation that would regulate the commercial industry. In 2019, Congress introduced legislation as well where it still waits to be reviewed. To make matters worse, shark-finning is on the rise.
Going through the marketplaces in Hong Kong, Roth discovers that it is quite easy to find dried shark fin, but the shop owners are not pleased at all at his presence. When confronted, an official attempt to compare chicken feet to shark fin. In the conversation also comes the realization that it is more than the fin that is driving the market for sharks.
To get around the illegality of shark finning, the industry began using all parts of the shark in products. Most notably the advertisement of ‘sharks don’t get cancer’ and selling supplements with shark oil in them. Instead, the shocking truth is something quite different and just as terrifying as a great white shark.
The idea is to stop the illegal shark-finning boats first and then work their way up the ladder of the others responsible. Facing the biggest problem is that finding the boats and boarding them is a dangerous undertaking and has already led to deaths. Roth is eager to find a way on board one of these vessels.
In Monrovia, Liberia that is desolated by war, is a prime example of a country that has been ravaged by illegal fishing and suffered for it financially. Sea Shepherd has stepped in to help the country with illegal fishing in their waters. In Robertsport, Liberia, small fisherman were being bullied by large commercial ships and ravaging fishing for the Liberian people.
Finally boarding a ship, Roth is not prepared once again for the shock of it all and keeps asking the question of ‘how is this being allowed to happen’. It is explained to him what the oils are used for, and the answer hits close to home. He also learns that the ships are not owned by companies in Liberia but instead from other countries, like Spain.
In New Bedford, Massachusetts, Roth witnesses those who believe they know more than the scientists. It is the scientists who study the dead sharks these non-believers bring in and get the samples needed to study the animal’s life. Now the barbarity of what is happening is brought to the eyes of children.
Roth arrives in the Bahamas to learn that they have become a shark sanctuary. It has become a place to study sharks and swim with them in their environment. They have learned the lessons that Roth believes needs to be the beacon for others to follow.
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The documentary includes Paul de Gelder, biologist Dr. Reese Halter, Marine Ecologist Boris Worm PhD, activist Regina Domingo, Director of Sea Shephard Asia Gary Stokes, Marine Biologist Dr. Alison Kock, Food Critic Chua Lam, Alex Hofford of Wildaid, Chu Tak Wai of the Guangzhou Shark Fin Association, Liz Merly PhD from the University of Miami, Deputy Defense Minister for Operations Hon. Ernest Vafee, Minister of Defense Maj. Gen. Daniel D. Ziankahn, Jr., Cooperative Union Representative Johnny Weah, Neurosurgeon Dr. Mathew Phillips, Research Biologist Lisa Natanson, PhD from NOAA, Ocean Ramsey who is an activist and diving instructor and activist/photographer Michael Muller.
All of this brings the Oceana and the Leonardo di Caprio Global Fishing Watch (globalfishingwatch.org), have partnered with Google and SkyTruth to launch Global Fishing Watch. This allows fishing boats to be tracked and it will make illegal fishing boats easier to find. It is a good beginning, but the fight continues as the sharks are still being hunted.
We need a healthy ocean and in order to obtain that, the killing of sharks must stop. The documentary makes it very clear that there are three ways to help, and they are amazing steps that we can take together and do our part for these majestic creatures of the sea.
Roth gives us a documentary that is frightening on another level than this horror film maker could have ever imagined yet, it taught me a lot about what has been doing and continues to be done. Awareness means we can no longer pretend that what lies beneath the waves has nothing to do with us – it has everything to do with us.
In the end – check the labels!