This was the final instalment in a week long series of programmes, entitled the 'Big Fish Fight' on Channel 4, inspired by chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, highlighting the wasteful practice of commercial fishing discards.
Around half of the fish caught in the North sea are thrown back. Most of these die.
The commercial fishing for specific species means other unwanted fish are caught, unwanted because there is either no consumer demand, or regulation prohibits fishermen from landing them.
The campaign aimed for 250,000 signatures on a petition calling for change in the Common Fisheries Policy, which is up for reform in 2012. By March they had in excess of 650,000 supporters.
It was television that highlighted the need for action in a balanced pragmatic way, considering the problem from all sides.
Having researched sharks over the previous twelve months, I paid particular attention to Gordon Ramsay's programme on shark finning.
The pre-transmission publicity featured Gordon detailing some dramatic moments during the making of the programme. It came across as perhaps a little too dramatic. So I started to make some enquires with the production company, and Gordon Ramsay's public relations firm.
Phone calls weren't returned, and when I eventually did manage to speak to junior members of the production team, answers to questions still weren't forthcoming. So I watched the broadcast, made some notes, and duly dropped them a line.
The programme was made by a production company called One Potato, formed by Ramsay, under the umbrella of Optomen Television.
Optomen Television Ltd;
17th January 2011
Letter of Complaint re- 'Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait'
I appreciate that many of the names & organisations contained in this letter of complaint will be unfamiliar to you.
I have included these as examples to support the points I have raised, in the hope that my complaint might be taken both courteously and seriously, rather than treated as an inconvenience.
You could ask Sean at One Potato about this.
He will, I am sure, be able to clarify any subsequent questions you may have regarding anything I have referenced.
Hopefully if you do need to speak to Sean, or Steve Rosier, they won't persist in talking over the top of you.
Good luck with that.
H E Sawyer
Factual Errors / Balance
The Magic Number
From the Press Release of 8/12/10, (and the Channel 4 web site), under Gordon's Shark Bait it states;
"It's estimated that each year 100 million sharks are killed world-wide and Gordon wants to find out if the slaughter is really necessary."
Obviously having spoken to 'loads' of experts over a period of 'months' in conducting your research, (according to Sean), you will no doubt be aware that the annual catch estimate of 100 million for shark is known as the 'Magic Number'.
This should give you some indication of its unreliability.
The 100 million annual catch was originally published in 1997. That means that in spite of the advancement of fishing techniques, (and the alleged growth in consumption of shark fin soup at an estimated rate of 5% per year), the annual catch, according to your research, as featured on both web site & press release, has not changed over the last 13 years.
The acknowledged scientific work done on the annual catch by Dr. Shelley Clarke, (2006), estimated the catch based on trade data of actual shark fin.
Her calculations of 26 - 73 million are three to four times higher than the Fisheries Observer Agency figures, but are still way short of 'The Magic Number'.
"Once my estimates of shark kills based on the fin trade were published, I naively thought that the 100 million figure would go away. I think if my number had been higher than 100 million it would have, but since it was lower, some NGOs did not want to backtrack and suggest that things had improved.
The fact that 100 million is still commonly used is a clear lesson that impact matters more than facts in some cases. I have to say I have absolutely no insight into what has made people inflate the number over time."
It's worth considering that since the initial publication of 'The Magic Number', 13 years have elapsed with 100 million sharks caught each year. It therefore follows that 100 million could be considered a sustainable annual yield, with sharks taking between six to eighteen years to mature and reproduce.
If the 100 million annual catch had a dramatic impact on shark populations as some conservationists claim, it would be reasonable to expect that 'The Magic Number' you cited in press release and on web site was numerically, and commercially, impossible to sustain.
I personally don't see what the problem is with a figure between 26-73 million, given it's the best scientific calculation currently available, and was calculated by a woman facing far more intimidation than Gordon Ramsay had to put up with.
It's a figure recognised by responsible shark conservationists, such as the Shark Trust and PEW, who fund them, (although PEW only recognise the high end number, not the range - and are credited with coming up with the figure - which they didn't), and it is also acknowledged by people, like myself, who suspect some shark conservationists are inflating the annual catch to further their own ends.
Up to 73 million kills is still a large amount of sharks.
As I am sure you will be quick to point out, you used 'up to 70 million' as the annual catch figure in the programme trailer, & the programme itself.
So from the press release & the web site to the trailer & the programme, the annual catch figure 'improved' by some 30 million.
But what you then need to say, to put the overfishing of shark into context, is to explain that the situation has dramatically improved over the past 13 years, going down from 100 million to 70 million - which you didn't.
Unless of course everyone in shark conservation secretly believes the 1997 'Magic Number' figure was wrong in the first place, in which case why are some conservation groups still using it today? Bite - Back & Shark Savers off the top of my head. And you were using it in the press release. For a programme that's just been transmitted.
There was mention in the programme of the percentage of sharks of some species that have been lost in under a decade. All true. However if you read "Patterns and Ecosystem Consequences of Shark Declines in the Ocean", by Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, you will find it contains some equally good news for sharks.
Of the species Dr. Worm evaluated globally, 4.1% are endangered, with 2.4% critically endangered, and shark decline is not universal across all species.
In the North Pacific for example, blue sharks have increased by 20%, relative to their 1970's levels, making them one of the most abundant species.
You didn't mention this in the programme. I understand why, but you weren't painting a particularly fair or balanced scientific picture.
In the pre-transmission interview with the Mail Online, (5/1/2011),
Gordon Ramsay is quoted as saying about the shark fin trade;
"It's a multibillion-dollar industry, completely unregulated"
This isn't exactly true. There is in fact lots of regulation; the problem is, enforcing it, as to be fair you recognised in the programme
Suggesting that the trade is 'unregulated' lends to the belief that no one in authority knows shark finning is happening, or if they do, they are unwilling to try to bring in regulation.
In the programme itself, Gordon Ramsay talks at a dock worker about regulations, (rather than talking to a dock work about regulations - a habit he shares with Sean. And Steve Rosier), but it is rather one-sided, given English is obviously not the dock worker's first language, so Gordon tends to ask leading questions, pushing his agenda.
He has absolutely no way of proving if the bags of fins 'match' the carcasses, but his own bias and frustration at not getting anyone to talk to him - or indeed take him seriously - leads him to encourage the viewer to the conclusion he has already made. (He should try being a member of the public trying to ask questions of his own production company. Pot & kettle etc.)
And when we do see sharks being landed with fins at a private dock, (showing that at the very least some regulations are being followed some of the time), because there is no illegality, Gordon says how 'sick' he feels, incessantly driving home how it's all about the fin - although the carcasses are clearly there - & how distressed he is, how relentless it is - how when they kill things back home, its somehow more noble & civilised.
I appreciate he's not a trained journalist - and that although he went out on a fact finding mission, he is biased, but that came across as petulant. It was like he couldn't accept that here at least, something was being done legally. That the regulations in this one instance had worked.
And whilst Sean might try to distance comments made in the Mail interview from the programme itself, that is rather disingenuous, given that Gordon Ramsay made the comments to the Mail promoting a programme where he is the talent, where the programme title carries his name, and where the show is made by a production company which he helped form, which he benefits from in terms of his brand, and the revenue stream it provides.
You indicate that you pay a great attention to detail, so I would assume this would include not only the programme, but also the pre-transmission publicity.
One of the biggest problems facing shark conservationists is the media's obsession to depict the shark in a sensational, stereotypical style. This was not helped by the motion picture Jaws', which Gordon mentioned during the making of the programme - but why mention it?
It's like an albatross round the neck of shark conservation.
'Jaws' the film had nothing to do with the content of this programme, and whilst it was obviously a personal off-the-cuff remark it only has negative connotations for shark conservation with the general public.
This makes it harder to bridge the gap between the need to conserve and protect something the majority of the public fear. Sharks lack the appeal of a giant panda after all.
Shark conservation is therefore especially difficult in the wake of the recent shark attacks in the popular tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheik
And in the programme Gordon Ramsay even acknowledges that they are seen by some people as killers, so why the emotive language to reinforce this?
In the Press Release of 8/12/10, under Gordon's Shark Bait it states;
"To understand more about the kings of the ocean, Gordon plunges in to swim with the deadly bull shark in his scariest challenge to date.
Sharks are both terrifying and beautiful, but experts believe overfishing is threatening to drive a third of the world's open ocean shark species to extinction."
Obviously dramatic language has been used, but all that has happened is you have resorted to type; 'the deadly bull shark', 'his scariest challenge', and 'Sharks are both terrifying and beautiful'.
This is extremely unhelpful language from a programme trying to conserve sharks, although it might be argued that it is extremely helpful language from someone trying to hype and promote a programme, and to convince a wide variety of journalists to do likewise on their behalf.
Why does the bull shark have to be 'deadly' and described as 'lethal'?
Why does the challenge have to be his 'scariest' and 'most dangerous'?
Why does Gordon Ramsay have to approach shark encounters 'fearlessly'?
When I go diving with sharks I wouldn't consider myself as 'fearless' for doing so, & I suspect neither would most divers.
In the first part of the programme he talks about his daughter and how she wants to go diving with sharks with him.
And Gordon says, "If I come back". This is emotive and adds an element of danger, but is that really necessary to the content of the programme about conserving sharks?
What comes over in the programme is that Gordon Ramsay is fascinated by sharks - not terrified by them.
If the shark conservationists complain about how the tabloid media represent the shark, with sensational reporting, (and they do), then look at the sensational language you've used trying to conserve sharks.
Is it fair for conservationist to be able to use emotive, sensational, and dramatic language in their reporting - yet journalists writing about shark attacks should not, & are wrong to do so?
And there was a massive discrepancy between the Mail version of the dramatic events of making the programme and what we actually saw.
On the boat the fishermen showed him the bag of fins voluntarily - we didn't see Gordon dramatically diving under the boat to remove it from the keel.
'In a quiet moment I dived from the boat to swim with marlin. I swam under the keel and saw this sack tied to it. I opened it and it was full of shark fins, huge ones from 20-year-olds.'
There was no evidence of Gordon doing this whatsoever.
The minute I threw this bag on deck, everyone started screaming and shouting.
Or footage of this, or the dramatic reaction.
A black car with blacked out windows does not necessarily make the car 'dodgy' - as Gordon's mate Beckham will testify.
There was no evidence of the car trying to 'block them in', either.
In fact it appeared that people in the trade didn't want to talk to him throughout the film. No one was chasing him, or threatening him - they obviously just wanted to be left alone - which given their activities is understandable.
And something that "smells like petrol" isn't necessarily petrol, especially when it obviously wasn't an irritant he needed to wash off. From the Mail;
"When I got back downstairs, they tipped a barrel of petrol over me.'
Intending to set you alight?
I didn't see any evidence of this. (the intent to set Mr Ramsay alight)
'A van pulled up and these seedy characters made us stand against a wall. The police came and advised us to leave the country. They said, "If you set one foot in there, they'll shoot you."'
I didn't see any evidence of this either. That of course doesn't mean it didn't happen, it's just that I'm employing the same level of scepticism as Gordon has for what he's told by people in the shark fin trade.
"The day before we got there, a Taiwanese crew landed a haul of hammerhead sharks – police searched the boat and found bails of cocaine."
Strangely this wasn't mentioned on camera during the finished edit of the programme, and there's also no mention of this incident being reported in the Tico Times, which covered both the attacks on both Gordon Ramsay and another environmentalist.
Although their reporting of the held at gunpoint/petrol attack of Gordon Ramsay came off the wire from the Mail article.
However Randall Arauz, who was on the programme, related a story about cocaine being transported with sharks to another journalist - but this story happened way back in 2009.
It just seems unusual that the Tico Times would report a story about attacks on people looking to expose the shark trade in Costa Rica, but not include the 'cocaine & shark' item that, had happened just the day before Gordon Ramsay arrived, which would have enhanced the story.
Based on the programme, people would naturally assume the Chinese consume shark fin soup and that the named countries involved are Costa Rica and Taiwan. (I think Mozambique was mentioned in print.
Yet strangely there was no mention that the EU fishing fleet provides a third of the shark fin sold in the Hong Kong market - the world's largest trading house for shark fin.
There's no mention that Britain fishes for shark fin to sell to the Chinese. As do the Spanish, French, Italians, or Portuguese.
The finger of blame seems to be pointing away from our shores and towards the developing world. Why would the programme fail to mention that our own fleet sells the product to the Chinese, as does the other member states of the EU, of which we are a member, for that matter? Or that the American fishing fleet also goes after shark fin?
Whilst I assume you would point to the developing world as proponents of finning, as opposed to home grown shark fishers, who obviously land sharks with fins attached, I would stress that a trophic cascade happens because sharks are fished out - with or without their fins.
If it is worth taking the moral high ground and being disgusted at the practices of poorer people overseas, shouldn't the same disgust be directed at those richer nations closer to home? Even if we are one?
What makes the developing world's shark catch so worthy of contempt, and ours so unworthy it is completely ignored by the programme?
The Financial Exploitation of Sharks
It is, as Gordon Ramsay says, a multibillion-dollar industry. And your programme has just added to that.
Obviously I have no idea how much a show like 'Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait' makes after costs, but I would assume the show turns a profit. It would at the very least enhance Gordon Ramsay the brand.
I haven't bothered to do much research on this I admit, and I'm sure you'll know the details, but it was reported that All3Media believes
Ramsay is key in the American market, and that the deal for his share of the production company is related to performance targets.
Therefore its not unreasonable to assume that 'Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait' has been made with targets in mind.
There's nothing wrong with targets, or indeed profit. I'm sure the shark fishing and fin industry would agree with me on that.
But it might be worth considering what you've made on the back of a programme about a species that is under threat.
Personally, when I have a shark article published, I donate 50% of my fee back to shark conservation. That way I don't feel like a hypocrite for making money on the back of a species that is under threat, or indeed questioning those who jump on the shark conservation bandwagon for their own ends.
At the moment I'm supporting David Diley, who is following his dream to make a shark conservation film, and given up his job and his home to do so. I've never met him personally, and have no idea where he is living now, as he is effectively sleeping on friend's sofas, but you can contact him at www.officetoocean.com
Personally I don't care what you decide to do. It is your integrity, not mine.
When all is said and done, I'm pleased to see that Gordon Ramsay is now a patron of the Shark Trust. I have a lot of respect for Richard Pierce, Sarah Fowler, Ali Hood and the people who work for the Trust. They are truly dedicated. There weren't even 20 people in the audience when I first heard Richard speak, and he'd travelled a lot further to speak than I had come to listen.
I do hope that Gordon Ramsay comes to appreciate through the Shark Trust that this non-commando, balanced, pragmatic, and factual approach to shark conservation is the way forward.
H E Sawyer
This was their reply
25th January 2011
Dear Mr Sawyer
Many thanks for your letter. My name is Tim Whitwell and I am the executive producer on Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait. I will attempt to answer your complaint.
The Magic Number - we did indeed speak to many experts over a period of months while researching this programme. We are happy with the claim made in the programme that every year up to 70 million sharks are killed for their fins.
Balance - we were happy that the programme presented a balanced viewpoint. Thank you for informing us of the figure for Blue sharks in the North pacific.
Regulation - The programme did explore the existence of regulations and the deficiencies in their scope and enforcement. The actions taken in Costa Rica reported at the end of the programme demonstrated the steps that need to be taken to remedy some of these problems.
Sensationalism - Gordon has his own unique and personal style which is enjoyed by many people. We believe his remarks in the programme to be appropriate to his point of view and not at all misleading.
Cultural bias - We refute this claim. It is not possible to cover the activities of every single shark fishing nation within one film. We chose two countries, which from our research appeared to warrant further investigation.
The financial exploitation of sharks - we believe this programme to be a highly regarded film about a pressing issue which threatens the future of marine ecosystems. We refute any claim that the programme 'was made with targets in mind'.
I thank you for your interest in this programme. It is clear from your letter that if you had produced a similar piece of work you may have added other details or concentrated your investigation elsewhere, However I hope you appreciate the editorial choices we made and the efforts we made to bring the issue of shark finning to a mass audience.
Editor Documentaries and Features
Optomen Television Ltd
The Daily Mail ran a story on 29th January, under the headline, "Gordon Ramsay the hypocrite: How the TV chef passionately defended sharks... but previously caught two rare ones for fun."
It transpired that eighteen months previously, in the summer of 2009, Gordon Ramsay had been on a sport fishing trip off Florida, and after fishing out the remains of a king mackerel, Ramsay set out after the shark that had bitten it. He landed a 250lb bull shark.
Ramsay returned later in the week, this time specifically to catch shark and subsequently landed a 350lb hammerhead. Both were sent to a local taxidermist and shipped back to the UK.
There's nothing wrong with this. Gordon Ramsay didn't have a crystal ball that told him he would be making a documentary highlighting the plight of sharks, or that he would be invited to be patron of the most credible shark conservation group in the UK.
Ramsay remains a patron of The Shark Trust, although they've subsequently added a statement from him on their web site explaining that the fishing trip took place a year before he decided to make a shark film, and that he no longer supports shark fishing of any kind. Ramsay hopes those people who watched 'Shark Bait' will be 'educated' to support the species.
Its just a pity that Gordon Ramsay and the production company didn't include this in their film, because the story line of a former celebrity shark fisherman turning towards shark conservation would have carried far more resonance and impact than what they actually produced.
I sent a second letter to Optomen.
Optomen Television Ltd;
27th February 2011
Letter of Complaint re- 'Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait'
I have just returned from carrying out shark conservation research in Micronesia to find a reply dated 25th January from Tim Whitwell.
A number of points I raised in my original letter of complaint were not dealt with & I wondered if you could perhaps ask Tim to respond to the following;
Whilst you claim to have spoken to a number of experts over the months researching the programme, there have been no actual names forthcoming. I initially telephoned prior to transmission to ask exactly who you had spoken to.
Forgive me, but this issue, of the annual shark catch, requires more than the approval of a television production company that they are 'happy with the claim made in the programme that every year up to 70 million sharks are killed for their fins'.
I'd appreciate the names of the scientists you spoke to so I can contact them to read their published results, & to ascertain which year their published figures relate to.
Regarding balance - would you care to illustrate with an example how balanced your programme was regarding some sharks thriving? There was nothing in the programme to suggest that you recognised that the decline is not universal amongst all shark species, or that the number of sharks caught annually has reduced substantially since 1997.
Claims made by Gordon Ramsay in the pre-transmission publicity.
Basically Gordon Ramsay claimed that he dived under the boat & recovered a bag of fins. We didn't see this. What we saw was the fishermen showing the bag from the hold of the boat voluntarily.
So did the event actually happen as we were shown, or as Gordon Ramsay claimed?
Similarly with his claim that a barrel of petrol was tipped over him with the intent of setting him alight.
Similarly with Gordon Ramsay's claim that police found bails of cocaine hidden by a Taiwanese crew who landed hammerhead sharks.
Did this actually happen? Did any of these events actually happen as Gordon Ramsay claimed, or were they some sort of creative license?
After all - according to your letter of 25th January, this programme was apparently made with no targets in mind - so if that was the case there would be no need to hype or 'sell' it with seemingly outlandish claims.
It's immaterial to shark conservation that "Gordon has his own unique and personal style which is enjoyed by many people."
This is, as you pointed out, a pressing issue which threatens the future of marine ecosystems, not light entertainment.
Are you suggesting that because Gordon Ramsay has a loyal audience, this is somehow justification for him to embellish, or, if these claims are fabricated, to mislead the audience by distorting the events that happened, or the time frame that they occurred in?
It is not appropriate, balanced, or fair, to brand the Taiwanese - in the case of the cocaine smuggling statement - by moving the event forward 2 years to coincide with your production company arriving in Costa Rica to make your film.
I'm sure Gordon Ramsay has reflected on events he himself participated in some years ago that have now surfaced in the wake of this 'highly regarded film'.
Perhaps during the course of your research you might have said to the talent, who is well known as a keen angler, "Have you ever caught any sharks, Gordon?"
As for Tim's refute at cultural bias - it is entirely possible to cover the fact that other nations, including the UK & other EU member states fish for shark & sell fins to the Asian markets.
At the end of the programme there were 2 captions stating that 4 restaurants had agreed to remove shark fin soup from their menus, & that Gordon Ramsay had become a patron of the Shark Trust. A third caption could have simply stated;
"The UK & other EU member states are among a host of countries who fish shark to supply fins to the Asian market."
How hard would that have been?
If you had carried out the research you claim, you would have been made aware that cultural basis is one of the accusations against shark conservation,
It's all very well refuting claims - but again - would you care to back it up with examples from the transmission that illustrates how fair you were?
Because after transmission, on the Bite-Back facebook page, a shark conservation group that claim assistance in the making of your programme, someone who watched your show said
"Would like to try boycotting any country involved in shark fishing/finning but would require a lot of research and label reading."
It was subsequently pointed out to this individual that would include boycotting the UK - which illustrates that although you may not have intentionally intended to create cultural bias, you've certainly created and reinforced it.
In Gordon Ramsay's statement on the Shark Trust web site, he expresses hope that viewers who saw the programme will be 'educated'.
But as a result of the programme, those people who watched it are totally oblivious to the shark fishing actions of their own country, & the other EU member states, where they have the ability to express their views by writing to their own MPs and MEPs to try to influence the shark catch of their own fishing fleet.
I look forward to your considered reply at your earliest convenience.
H E Sawyer
This was their reply
2nd March 2011
Dear Mr Sawyer
Many thanks for your second letter. I think I have sufficiently dealt with the issues you raised in my first response and I have nothing further to add.
Editor Documentaries and Features
Optomen Television Ltd
Although The Shark Trust received a jump in new members and "an avalanche" of questions and declarations of support for its anti-finning campaigns, Richard Pierce, Chairman of The Shark Trust is not scheduled to speak at the forthcoming London International Dive Show.
Gordon Ramsay remains a patron of The Shark Trust. Like it or not, celebrity endorsement is worth two trophy sharks. It was reported last year that in a deal with All3Media, (as part of a takeover of Optomen Television, which co-owns Ramsay's production company), he is in line for a potential £10 million pay out, or £20 million if set targets are exceeded over the coming five years.
Shark Savers have changed their estimate of the annual shark catch from 100 million to Dr. Shelly Clarke's 73 million ('upwards of').
Bite-Back have also revised their annual catch figure from 100 million to 70 million.
Having been told by Ofcom that there's nothing they can do with my complaint, even on the grounds of cultural bias, because the programme was not regarded as news output, I've forwarded all correspondence to the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, who are currently preparing their own complaint to Ofcom about the documentary.
Taipei Representative Office in the U.K.
11th March 2011
Dear Mr Sawyer
Firstly I would like to thank you for your letter detailing your complaints with Optomen’s recent television show Gordon Ramsay: Shark Bait. You have obviously pursued deep research in the field of shark conservation and we are deeply impressed with the efforts you have made to ensure that information on this topic is presented to the public in an objective and unbiased manner.
When the production was first aired on 16th January 2011 we also wrote to Tim Whitwell, editor at Optomen, detailing our concerns with regards to how information was presented in the show. We had also written to him prior to the show’s release to make a request for a balanced report on this issue. Our concerns in particular were as follows:
1) While Taiwan doubtless does consume shark’s fin and is involved in the fishing of the animal, Hong Kong and mainland China are the major markets for these products, and the consumption of shark fin in Taiwan is in fact decreasing.
2) According to 2009 statistics from the Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture of Taiwan, most of the Taiwanese fishing industry is in fact based around Bonito (16.43%). Shark accounted for only 1.33% of the total catch of Taiwanese fishermen.
3) Taiwan complies with common international regulations on shark fishing.
4) Taiwan has moved to protect certain species of shark, notably enacting legislation to ban the fishing, selling, importing and exporting of whale shark in 2008.
We did not feel that our points were accurately represented in the show. We also felt that there were certain factual errors concerning the depiction of the number of Taiwanese boats operating out of Costa Rica, and we were disappointed by the seeming lack of a translator to enable Gordon Ramsay to communicate clearly with those whom he interviewed during his time in Taiwan. In both cases the letters were treated in a relatively desultory manner by Mr. Whitwell; after having read his responses to your complaints I am sure you can sympathise with this.
Despite this treatment, we do not currently feel that this issue is worth pursuing further. Reviews of the show were generally negative. It also seems that there has only been minimal follow up after the show’s release, and very few complaints have been made to us concerning this issue. For these reasons we feel that it is more important to concentrate on the Taiwanese government’s commitment to international conservation. As a responsible member of the global community, Taiwan will actively continue to pursue international cooperation in this regard.
Once again we would like to congratulate you on your efforts with regards to this issue, and we sincerely hope for further debate in the future on the topic of shark conservation. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information on Taiwan’s position on this subject.
Director of Press Division
Taipei Representative Office in the UK
Chances are no action will be taken, but it's nice to know I wasn't the only one who found 'Shark Bait' questionable.
Conservation is difficult, partly because in pursuit of change, donations, and signatures from well meaning members of the public it requires pragmatism, the best scientific data available at any given time, and a duty of care, whereby the message being promoted is done without prejudice or cultural bias.
There are some shark conservationist who are quick to throw their hands up in horror when the other side accuse them of cultural bias. In this particular instance, I think the other side have a point.
I cannot take the moral high ground and claim I have been caused "appreciable harm or offence" by Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait, which is why Ofcom are unable to address my concerns. (It's not because I happen to be British, rather than Taiwanese.)
But as someone who calls for responsible shark conservation, I am acutely embarrassed.