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Top 5 Shark Week Losers

With Discovery’s uber-successful stunt, Shark Week, coming to a close, shark awareness is at a record high.  Even Taylor Swift was watching. 

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Meanwhile, conservationists are fighting hard to protect shark populations from overfishing and to reduce the demand for shark products –namely the Asian delicacy shark fin soup, for which up to 73 million sharks are killed every year. 

There are some people who just get it, like Yao Ming who famously vowed to never eat shark fin soup again in a WildAid PSA.  Unfortunately, there are others who just don’t get it.  Here is a round-up of those Shark Week losers: 

1) The Food Network

While conservationists are working hard around the world to establish shark sanctuaries and eliminate the trade of shark products, one of the most ubiquitous culinary brands in the world, the Food Network, is still hawking shark recipes and promoting the consumption of shark products.  Several years ago, Iron Cheffeatured shark fin as the ingredient-du-jour and to this day, Food Network’s repertoire of websites still features shark-based recipes.  Nothing says a family dinner like a Shark Bake with Garlic, Ginger, and Hot Pepper Oil. Let’s tell the Food Network to stop featuring shark as food – here’s a petition to help you do just that.

2) Hollywood

On September 2nd, Relativity Media will release the horror film Shark Night 3D.  With the tagline “Terror Runs Deep” and the film’s blood-splattered website featuring a bikini-clad vixen about to be eaten by a terrifying-looking Great White Shark, one doesn’t have to wonder what this film is about. If that’s not enough, it was just announced that filmmaker Paul Schrader is teaming up with American Psycho author, Bret Easton Ellis, on the film Bait, about a man who works at a beach club who “angles his way on to a yacht filled with the obnoxious elite, commandeering it into waters filled with the finned man-eaters.” Hollywood needs to stop demonizing sharks if we expect to public to rally in support of these animals.  If people knew the truth (you’re more likely to be killed by a pig or from a coconut falling from a tree), conservation efforts would be a bit easier.

3) Golden Unicorn Restaurant

The prominent New York City Cantonese-style restaurant, Golden Unicorn, still proudly serves piping hot bowls of shark fin soup.  The restaurant, which in 1996, was named by Food and Wine Magazine as one of NYC’s Five Best Restaurants, and has an average 3.5 star rating on Yelp, does not lack for good PR. I wonder what kind of PR they’d get if customers knew that in the time it takes to leisurely slurp down a bowl of shark fin soup, 5,000 sharks will have been finned alive and tossed back into the ocean to drown or bleed to death. Unfortunately, Golden Unicorn isn’t alone.  An estimated 55 restaurants in NYC, and 360 restaurants nationwide, still serve shark fin soup.  Is there one near you?

4) California State Senator Leland Yee

One of the most outspoken opponents to California’s Shark Fin Ban, AB 376, comes from SF Mayoral Candidate, Senator Leland Yee. The bill would effectively ban the sale, import, and trade of shark fins in California.  Armed with the support of a prestigious lobbying form, Senator Yee is pressuring the Senate Appropriations Committee to water down the bill with amendments and/or exclusions that would render the bill ineffective by allowing for loopholes to be exploited and the trade to continue. Leonardo Dicaprio, Edward Norton, Yao Ming, Scarlett Johansson, and other Hollywood heavyweights, in association with WildAid, NRDC, and HSUS, sent a letter to California Senators in support of AB 376.  A recent poll by the Monterey Bay Aquarium showed that 70% of Chinese American voters favor the ban. If you’re a Californian, contact your representative and pledge your support.

5) San Jose Sharks

While the San Jose Sharks are bolstering their roster in preparation for their upcoming season, just 150 miles away, AB 376 is making its way through the California State Legislature. Their mascot, Sharkie, promotes literacy and other philanthropic causes but has been radio silent when it comes to protecting his own species, especially with such an important piece of legislation requiring public support in his home state.  Mike Kwan, a San Francisco resident and fan of the San Jose Sharks, has started his own petition asking for the Sharks to finally take a stand on this issue. You can do it, Sharkie!