Sharkwater is an interesting and award winning documentary. It is also a highly opinionated issue film.
It is very well shot and the issues that are discussed are real. But I always have my bullshit radar go off on this kind of documentary so I need to do more research for myself before I make any real decisions.
The movie comes down to three basic premises: 1. Sharks are a misunderstood and integral part of our ecosystem (no argument with that) 2. Fishing sharks for their fins is not only barbaric, it’s wasteful and stupid (again, no argument with that point) 3. Environmental groups like The Sea Shepherd Society -http://www.seashepherd.org- are heros for attacking the boats and fishermen who do it. (big problem, the
phrase vigilante justice jumps into my mind like a lightning bolt)
There is a long sequence in the movie where the Sea Shepherd Society and their ship the Ocean Warrior get into a confrontation with a fishing boat. They ram it and direct high pressure water cannon onto the boat. Then they act suprised when they are arrested when they get into port. It’s more complicated than that of course, especially if the footage where they are told to by the government over the radio is to be believed. Again, my suspicions get raised because editing film is a wonderful way to make your point even if it doesn’t
The film argues the point that the fishermen were fishing illegally in a protected area and that the practice is widespread with monetary support from asia to buy off the authorities. Video footage of the fishermen at work is shown, and the private docks where illegally caught
shark fins are brought in and dried are also shown. There’s no question in my mind that finning is a problem on a massive scale and that it
is done illegally. I do question the solution advocated in the film.
The extras include a 1964 Air Force Training Video called Shark Defense, about water survival. Some of its points have changed with a growing understanding of sharks, but a lot has stayed the same in 44 years. That 10 minutes or so of footage was almost worth the rest of the dvd to me.
I recommend the film as a point of view on the issue and a starting point if you aren’t already aware of it. You can find it on amazon.com.