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World Whale Film Festival Spotlight

Madison Stewart, aka ‘Shark Girl’ returns to the World Whale Film Festival, February 08, 2019, with an update on her goal to convince shark fishermen in Indonesia that tourism is a viable and profitable alternative to the shark fin industry.In a world where shark stock is collapsing, changing the practices of generations of shark fishermen who work for survival is not easy. There is one trade however, that can rival the multi-million dollar shark trade, one trade that can save sharks and people – tourism. This short film depicts the initial journey of project Hiu (project shark) to find a shark fisherman among the fleet willing to let us onto his boat, and pay him for tourism, distracting the boat from its usual shark fishing trip. Through the grasp of Chinese buyers, struggles of developing nations, crystal clear water and thriving reef, we find a glimmer of hope, in an ocean decimated by demand, we find an alternative source of income.

What inspired you to create your film?

I was inspired to create this film because our approach to working with the fishermen instead of against them is a very important message for people in conservation today. I wanted everyone to see a side of the fishermen they haven’t before and to learn how possible change is when you understand and respect.

Why do you think it’s important to share your film at the Pacific Whale Foundation World Whale Film Festival specifically?

There are lots of stories within the whale industry where whales have created tourism opportunities for people who were previously fishing, It’s one of the things that inspired me to start this project.

Why do you think people should come to the film festival?

I think everyone has the ability to affect the oceans in a major way, local or international. The first step to this is to find something you’re passionate about and become inspired, and for me, films have always done this. Let someone tell you a story about their passion, about an issue, let that inspire you to create change.

Who would enjoy this film festival?

Anyone! The films will open your eyes and show you a side of the ocean you not only need to know about, but can help us change once you do.