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BLOG | Interview with Jennifer Zabawa

Want to learn more about how Sharkwater Productions is fighting the shark finning industry? Read The Campanil interview below with Jennifer Zabawa, Assistant to “Sharkwater” filmmaker Rob Stewart.

Stephanie Scerra: How has the shark finning industry changed since the documentary was filmed?

Jennifer Zabawa: When “Sharkwater” was released, it spawned several conservation groups — including – changed government policy in four countries and broke box office records. In my opinion, it brought finning into the public eye across the globe. To date, there have been over 80 countries that have banned [finning], and while that sounds like an amazing feat, there are still no countries that have banned the import of fins. This means that as long as the fishermen meet up with a shipping vessel out at sea and transfer the fins to them, the fins can be brought in. (Rob spoke about this at the recent screening at the ROM – you can watch the video and hear it straight from him.) As of April 2010, Hawaii has passed a bill that prohibits the harvesting, sale and possession of shark fins – this means completely banned in the state and people in possession of fins (i.e. restaurant owners) have until July 2011 to remove their inventory.

SS: What has Rob done to help sharks since the documentary was filmed?

JZ: Rob has continued to work to help save sharks since it came out, and while he isn’t a “researcher” out on the water (though he would love to be in the water with them as much as possible), he continues his efforts to raise awareness and help affect change. He has spoken on several panels (including Green Forum Oceans in Miami), presented at IdeaCity ’09, spoke at Yale University (at their Environmental Film Festival 2009) and [spoke at] Planet in Focus film festival in Toronto. He works closely with groups such as WildAid, who recently produced a PSA featuring Yao Ming and spoke against using shark skin in fashion during the promotion of the SharkWatcher…. Did I mention Sharkwater is premiering in Hong Kong in June? Rob does whatever he can, whenever he can. Despite all of the movements to save sharks — countless interviews, articles, grassroots movements, protests and petitions — the highest number of sharks ever killed on record was in 2009. Rob knows he has to keep going until finning is stopped.

SS: What is Rob’s next documentary about?

JZ: His next film is called “Rise Again,” a how-to guide to start the revolution necessary to save the planet. It continues his journey from where “Sharkwater” left off. Years have passed and not only are sharks still in trouble, but the entire planet is at stake and the conservation movement is now about saving humanity. This documentary will follow Rob on a journey around the globe fighting to save the ecosystems we depend on for survival, pointing to revolutions of the past to spark the revolution needed to save the planet. Filming will take place June through December 2010 with an anticipated release in 2011.

For more information, read what efforts a campus club have taken to fight the practice.