It is with a huge sense of pride we post the following link. While this is not a companion animal story it is something everyone should be aware of. For many years advocates for the protection of our marine ecosystems, and the many wonderful animals that live within, have been tirelessly striving to raise awareness, educate the general public and fight for the many animals that cannot defend themselves. A few days ago Canada became a leader in the eyes of the world in being the first country to pass comprehensive legislation banning the importation of shark fins and shark related products into our country. This is a great day for Canada, an absolutely necessary day for sharks and our marine ecosystems world wide and a great victory, after many years of disappointments, for numerous individuals who, in my eyes, are heroes.
In 2012 I went before council in Muskoka to do a small part in leading the charge to ban shark fins and shark-related products within our region. Many people questioned why this was necessary as Muskoka is certainly not a marine environment and we do not have a noticeable population utilizing such “products”. To me, as the chapter executive for United Conservationists it was an important issue for the future.
I had worked with many individuals in larger city centres to help raise awareness, generate a movement and ultimately have municipalities put in place similar bans. In 2011 we managed to get larger cities to influence other larger cities. The ultimate goal being Toronto passing the legislation necessary to allow us to approach Ottawa and generate the momentum toward a federal ban.
A massive road block ensued shortly after success in Toronto when a small lobbying group turned this into an obscure battle that ultimately was reversed by short-sighted and ill-informed individuals that were unfortunately in the position of power.
All these years later, federal legislation has been passed through the efforts of many people that simply would not stop advocating for what is right. One of those individuals, and really the one that spearheaded this entire movement since 2006, was Rob Stewart. Rob is well known internationally for his life-long passion for sharks and his opening the eyes of the world to the horrific practice of shark finning through his award winning documentary Sharkwater. Rob released a follow up documentary called Revolution a few years later and his movement gained even more momentum. He worked almost every moment, of every day, to be the advocate for the marine environment’s most criminalized inhabitants- Sharks. He felt it is was his life’s goal that he be required to save sharks from extinction due to the relentless onslaught of continual persecution.
While working on his follow up documentary film, Sharkwater Extinction, Rob unfortunately lost his life in a tragic diving accident off the coast of the Florida Keys. The tragedy was heart wrenching for those of us who knew him, his family and for the movement he began. His family and friends continued with his vision and finalized the editing and release of Sharkwater Extinction in 2018. Again, this documentary received accolades the world wide, inspired another generation of people to stand up for the environment, and all its inhabitants, and re-instilled the passionate and unrelenting efforts of those who knew him.
Rob was a true ambassador in every respect to the natural world as we know it. He was an inspired individual that followed his heart day in and day out no matter the adversity. He was a gentle person always willing to listen to what every person had to offer. He was a relentless marine advocate turned conversationalist and political pot-stirrer in the most thoughtful fashion. He was a student of the earth’s ecology and an educator for all that would listen. He is one of my life’s heroes and this federal legislation is testament to him and a stellar example of how one person can create massive change.
Please read on and be part of the movement and help to raise the awareness of everyone in your circle of life.
Dr Jason McLeod