Prior to Lunar New Year, Sharkwater Extinction home release raises awareness about impact of shark-fin soup

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      As we head towards the Lunar New Year (February 5), the issue of a controversial seafood-based dish arises once again.

      Shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese dish served for special occasions for weddings and banquets, including new year celebrations.

      However, movements have been raising awareness about the devastating impact that shark hunting has on not only the species but also the imbalance and destruction that the decimation of sharks trigger in marine ecosystems.

      Younger generations are switching to opt out of shark fin soup or use alternatives. In Vancouver, the Hua Foundation launched Shark Truth in 2009 to raise awareness within local Chinese Canadian communities about the impact of shark consumption.

      In September, UBC and University of Hong Kong researchers published a study that revealed how the decimation of sharks for luxury seafood dishes and products would lead to their extinction unless action is taken.

      Shark-fin soup
      gyro/Getty Images

      The late Canadian filmmaker and environmentalist Rob Stewart of Toronto had sounded the alarm about this issue in his 2006 documentary Sharkwater.

      In his sequel, Sharkwater Extinction, Stewart delved deeper into the illegal shark fin industry and the pirate fishing trade in the U.S., France, Spain, West Africa, Panama, Costa Rica, and more.

      Unfortunately, tragedy struck during the filming of this documentary.

      On January 31, 2017, Stewart went missing during a dive near Islamorada, Florida, in the Upper Florida Keys. The U.S. Coast Guard located his body on February 3.

      The 2018 CBC documentary The Third Dive explored the controversy surrounding Stewart’s demise, which was attributed to a scuba diving accident.

      Rob Stewart
      Sharkwater Extinction

      After Stewart's death, Sharkwater Extinction was completed by University of Windsor professor and film editor Nick Hector, with the help of Vancouver-raised filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson.

      The film, which screened at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival, was released in Canada in October 2018 and will have a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on February 1.

      The film is now being released for home viewing in Canada on iTunes today (January 29) before expanding into wider home release on February 5 at the Cineplex Store, Google Play, and several video-on-demand platforms, including Telus, Shaw, and Rogers.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.