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.'

excerpt:

“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.

Ila

1 comment:

  1. Having read the content on this site, absorbing it, and thinking about it for some time, I have come to the conclusion that you might be exaggerating things a bit.
    First of all, it should be noted that Discovery, despite your accusations of barring attempts to save sharks, actually includes a list of shark conservation links on their website, as well as a list of things ordinary people can do to help save them.
    Second of all, while I will admit some of the titles of the programs on Shark Week might sound sensationalistic, many of them (I say this only because I don't have the time to view all of them) go out of their way to talk about how sharks are NOT mindless killers. (Nigel Marven, in the program "Bull Sharks: The World's Deadliest Shark" puts it best - "Sharks have an image problem") A good example of this debunking of myths is the recent program "Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever", which examines the aftermath of the Indianapolis sinking, only to come to the EXPLICIT conclusion that what happened was NOT some massive feeding frenzy, as many people believe after seeing "Jaws", and that most of the men died from causes other than sharks. In fact, if we assume (reasonably, I think) that the episodes available on the iTunes store or the DVDs represent what Discovery considers the best of "Shark Week", most of them are actually quite informative, such as "Sharks Behind Glass", a fascinating look at what goes into keeping sharks in aquariums; or "American Shark", which is mainly about the different sharks and shark-related areas one can find along the American coastline (while there are a couple of mentions of shark attacks in this program, one of them is shown to be quite mild, little more than a small puncture; the other one, we are told, left no one injured, just a large bite into someone's surfboard).
    Your apparent ignorance of all of this probably stems from the fact that -- in an effort to avoid giving any money to Discovery that, as you imagine, they would use towards further persecuting sharks -- you refuse to tune into "Shark Week" on TV or to buy any of the episodes. This is logical. However, in this day and age when one can easily (albeit illegaly) download material without paying anything for it, this excuse is rendered quite flimsy.
    As proof of how Discovery's depiction of sharks affects viewers, you have included only ONE article, written by someone who, judging from what he has written, seems to be ignorant in general. I'm afraid more sources are needed to make a legitimate case that Discovery is telling people that sharks are monsters. In fact, Discovery seems to be doing the same thing most successful wildlife films and TV programs have done: show the individuals both sides of the case (and yes, Discovery HAS mentioned many times in its programs how much we are devastating shark populations), and allow the individual viewer to make their own decision about what to do.
    Ultimately, while I admire your resolve, and agree that sharks need our help more than ever, you seem to have mounted a crusade against a company that IS on your side, and has been for a while, just with different methods. Instead of fighting them, it would be more productive for you to find ways to work WITH them to save the world's remaining sharks.

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