When Director Rusty Armstrong accompanied Shark Diver magazine Editor Eli Martinez on a shark diving trek, the importance of shark conservation was shared by everyone they met. Overfishing and finning were the reasons for global shark depletion and had to be stopped. Toward the end of the trip, Rusty met a retired shark fisherman who had different ideas about shark conservation…and The Shark Con was born.
The shark fisherman Rusty met commercially fished sharks for three decades, and kept extensive notes about his catches and shark migrations. In 1997, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) attempted to put an end to overfishing and heavily reduced the shark fishing quotas. When the new regulations began to take effect, his livelihood suffered dramatically. He mentioned to the NMFS a well-known scientist who had completed ground-breaking shark research potentially proving sharks couldn’t be overfished, but his work was dismissed as well. Eventually, like many other fishermen, the new regulations put him out of business.
After hearing the fisherman’s story, Rusty began exploring the world of shark conservation – and what he learned was startling. The shark diving tourism industry, comprised of people with a common goal of protecting sharks, was suffering from new regulations being imposed on them as well. Rusty also discovered that many non-profit organizations were raising millions of dollars each year for shark research, yet very little research was actually being done. Meanwhile, more and more regulations were being implemented.
What were the results of the studies being conducted by the NMFS? Why were these new regulations being implemented? The answers found were disturbing...
The Shark Con takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride into the big business of sharks, revealing the controversial truth about the industry, all the while trying to answer the central question…Are sharks really overfished? Or is this just an elaborate con?