Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shark Tournaments and Fishing

Here is a description of the results of the release of the movie 'Jaws.' It is an excerpt from a book about shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, who led the massacre of sharks off America's East coast. Its called 'In the Slick of the Cricket' by Russell Drumm.

Prior to that, sports fishermen had mostly targeted fish to eat, and considered sharks to be 'inedible as snakes.'


“In Act One, a hundred plastic boats explode to life, tearing out of Montauk harbour (and every other harbour along the East Coast) before dawn, with enough engine and fuel to get them 30 miles offshore and back by evening weigh-in. At a $400 per boat entry fee, its Jaws glory and big cash prizes that drives them on...

“Act Two: In the afternoon. Flags and pennants fly. Blues, makos, hammerheads are raised on gin poles for the triumphant harbour entry. Hoisted again to the scales, in turn, to the ooohs and aaahs of hundreds of onlookers wearing tee-shirts advertising sharks, advertising marinas, ad infinitum. Oooohs and aaaaahs. The marina barker barks weights and the names of boats like Mako My Day... Daddy's Toy...... Four play.

“Yeeuk! squeals, as fisheries scientists, performing necropsies on already weighed beasts, turn the dock into a giant pizza with the works.

“Act Three: Nightfall. The rotting juice of the competitors' tons of discarded sharks drips from the marina's 20 yard dumpsters. Next day, in the landfill, small mountains of sharks, still graceful in their piles, are claimed by seagulls and flies.

“….I'm howling now at the captain's description of the victory-over-blue-shark ritual performed by his early anglers: “At first they brought 'em home to dump in somebody's swimmin' pool, to hang up somebody's flag pole. When we first started shark fishing there were blue sharks that wound up just about any place you could imagine. They put 'em in the phone booth here in Montauk... There was a blue shark in it the next day, standin' up. They had him all propped up, and they had his fin tied, had a hat on him, had a cigarette in his mouth. He was supposed to be makin' a phone call.” Ha ha oh boy.”

The author also describes 'black fish' (large dolphins, or toothed whales), who were caught and ground up for chumming sharks for these heroes, but which were also caught and hung from telephone poles, as part of the general killing orgy. Whales.

Later, when catch and release began to be practised due to concern that the sharks were already disappearing:

“ “Happy horseshit” says Frank. Without the Jap hooks he used, the ones designed by Japanese longline fishermen to stick in the jaws of fish, feeling good about tagging and releasing sharks was folly. The cheaper hooks bought by the weekend warriors were more often than not swallowed by the sharks which then fought their final battle gut-hooked. After being released, most sank to the bottom, dead.

Mundus said “Maybe two out of twelve are hooked in the mouth. Add it up along the coast.”

Our concerns about Discovery's portrayal of sharks a la 'Jaws' are due to the fact that the resulting hatred and fear of sharks motivates people to go out and kill them. This is even more of a concern because 'Jaws' was known to be a fictional horror movie, but Discovery claims to be showing facts about sharks when it refers to them as monsters, mindless killers, and countless other similar terms.

Discovery's continuous depictions of sharks as monsters is feeding the same killing frenzy which is seen in the countless shark fishing tournaments we are seeing now advertised one after another over Internet.

They are as responsible for the flight of sharks towards extinction as long-liners and shark fin soup through their mongering of lies. They not only have erected an effective barrier to shark conservation, but motivate thousands to go out and slaughter them.

The link to the Manifesto denouncing Discovery's practise, and demanding that they begin to portray sharks as they really are is listed on the right under Links.

With my thanks for hearing me.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

On the Interview with Paul Gasek, Shark Week Executive

David Shiffman's interview with Discovery's Shark Week executive Paul Gasek has taken place, and is posted on David's blog.


Gasek failed to address the point of our Manifesto--that his company is making a great deal of money victimizing sharks by cultivating hatred and fear of them, when they are on the verge of extinction.

He failed to address the fact that Discovery is considered by reputation to be an educational channel, so that people believe, when shown sharks as monstrous killing machines, that they really are. The truth is that they are not. People all over the world swim with sharks for pleasure, an activity which is possible because sharks are social, calm, intelligent, and do not target people for food.

As expected, Gasek repeated similar platitudes to those he gave The Shark Group representatives when they met with him. When asked about his background, he said he had experience making natural history programming, but he failed to mention that he spent 10 years as a commercial fisherman.

He also failed to mention the level of his scientific education, which is relevant given that he is the scientific advisor for Shark Week. A scientific advisor with no scientific education is questionable in itself. When our representatives met with him, he thought that throwing turkeys to tiger sharks was science.

At this meeting, he said that the horror factor of Shark Week was an institution, but that they were using it less. This year's subject matter consists of five out of six new shows focused on shark attacks, so no effort is being made to improve the content of Shark Week in terms of presenting sharks as they really are. Absolutely magnificent films about sharks have been turned down by them. The mention they make of the need for shark conservation is meaningless when they are causing people to think that sharks SHOULD be hunted to extinction.

Its natural that Gasek would use this opportunity to tell everyone how good Shark Week is but at our private meeting he laughingly referred to what they do as SHARK PORN, emphasizing how proud he is of it. It was clear, and clear to me from seeing what Discovery did to the verified information about shark social lives and intelligence that I offered them, that Gasek cares about sharks uniquely in terms of how much money they can make from them. He glosses over our pointed issues with the slipperiness of an eel.

From a recent article against trying to save sharks from extinction by Justin Clarke:

“Sharks scare the hell out of me. I’ve watched enough Discovery Channel to know that sharks are pure killing machines…”

The theme of the Manifesto is to denounce Discovery Channel, owned by Discovery Communications for profiting from the demonization of ordinary and important animals on the verge of extinction. It calls for a boycott against Shark Week programming until they begin to show sharks as they truly are. Since they began, in 1987, their crimes against sharks have earned them billions of dollars, and created a wave of hatred of sharks that stands in the way of their protection from extinction.

If you have not yet signed the Manifesto, here's the link again: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Boycott-Shark-Week

Thank you very kindly for your attention.