Although you won’t hear the "I'm On a Boat" song at Shark Truth’s three year anniversary party, you’ll be able to say it and live it as you cruise through False Creek and around Vancouver. Enjoy delicious food from The Reef and Calabash Bistro, feel the reggae beat from DJ Tank Gyal and sip on a Caribbean cocktail while supporting an organization fighting to save sharks from extinction.
The fundraiser party runs from 7-10pm on Wednesday June 20th and is only $35 with all proceeds going to support Shark Truth and the preservation of sharks. Like any good party it will happen rain or shine, as the boat is predominantly covered with an outdoor deck to enjoy the views. Attire is casual but its encouraged to wear or bring a fun hat or wig for the Jammin’ Shark Photo Booth. There will also be a silent auction of Canucks goodies (how appropriate) and locally sponsored prizes.
Every year, approximately 73 million sharks are poached for their fins. At this rate, it’s estimated that 25 species are at risk of extinction within our lifetime (IUCN, 2010). For many a shark is seen as simply a threat, something to be feared, with movies like Jaws skewing our attitude towards the beautiful creature. In reality, sharks are top predators but they maintain the health and balance of our ocean ecosystem. Although sharks have existed on this planet for over 400 million years, their populations have nose-dived this past century as fishers have realized the value of their fin. Unlike many other sea creatures sharks only birth an average of 2-3 pups a year, making the ratio of sharks killed to sharks born completely unbalanced.
A chat with Claudia Li, the founder of Shark Truth enlightened me on this troubling issue and told me a little more about the event they're throwing.
Is their some significance to the June 20th date?
"It's the first day of summer! And this month is also our third-year anniversary. So we're celebrating our achievements and bringing inspiration from the sun and this season for our future endeavors."
And the reggae theme?
"It's lively. It celebrates music, art, dance and to me, represents summer and warmth."
What do you hope to have achieved in ten years with Shark Truth?
"To educate and empower the Wah Yun / Hua Ren community (community of people of Chinese descent) in Canada and across the world on how they can take action on conservation issues."
Do you feel that the younger generation who seems to be realizing the consequences of their actions will be able to persuade their elders that what they're doing is wrong? Can you "teach an old dog new tricks?"
"Yes! Younger folks have a lot of power in their family and community, more than they know sometimes. You can see this in the wedding couples that enter our Happy Hearts Love Sharks wedding contest. Last year's winning bride, Judy, had a difficult time convincing her parents are first but now her father brags about how his daughter stood up for something she believed in to his friends.
Also, our elders have experienced what it means to work hard for our kid’s futures. They understand that we're just doing the same for our children's, and their grandchildren's, future as well: doing our part to create and protect a healthy planet for our family and culture to live on."
Have you eaten any of the shark free alternative soups? Which was your favorite? Do you think that is a viable option that people will eventually accept, like tofurkey is used to replace turkey?
"There are thousands of different types of Fin Free alternatives. My favourite is fish and goji berry soup because goji berries represent fertility and brightness/colour. It's about changing our mentalities about this product – that we can represent virtues of generosity in different ways."
It seems family is important to you. How did your family react when you made this decision to start Shark Truth?
"My parents were concerned that working as a young entrepreneur, it would be hard to earn a living and grow my career. They got over it quickly though when they realized I'm committed to this cause and social change. I'm very grateful for parents who support and are proud of me. My mom convinces all her friends to go Fin Free, even though I never asked her to."