By H.Y. Leong
Photos by Anba, Ranjith, Eugene Chua and Jessica Ng

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The film Shark Girl was well received by members of the public who attended a free screening at GSC NU Sentral on 10th of September 2016.

Presented by Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch Marine Group and hosted by Golden Screen Cinemas, the film was screened in conjunction with the My Fin My Life Campaign.

The campaign aimed to address the decline of shark populations in Malaysia by getting businesses, the Malaysian government and the public to pledge to remove shark’s fin soup from menus.

One-third of shark species are close to extinction because of commercial fisheries.

“Malaysia is the world’s third-largest shark’s fin importer in volume, according to a 2015 FAO report,” said MNS Selangor Branch Marine Group Coordinator Wong Wee Liem. “Most of that is consumed locally. But times have changed. Shouldn’t we evolve with the times and more importantly, the knowledge?”

The film depicted the story of 19-year-old Madison Stewart, an Australian conservationist and filmmaker. Growing up on the Great Barrier Reef, Madison realised the creature she loves most was disappearing fast. Determined to show the world the importance of these mighty creatures she’s never feared, Madison investigated the Australian shark fisheries and connected with a global network of conservationists to safeguard the animals she loves.

The one-hour film was watched by 220 people including secondary school students and 212 pledges to not consume shark fin’s soup and not buy shark products were collected at the event.

MNS Vice President Professor Dr Ahmad Ismail gave a short speech about conservation while Wong talked about marine programmes that people could participate in.

Many of the cinema-goers found the film inspiring.

After the screening, a personal message from the film’s Australian producers Gisela Kaufmann and Carsten Orlt, was read out to the audience:

“We’re passionate about nature and the environment and have always believed it is the young generation that can change our future for the better – and we’ve always believed that every single person can make a difference. That’s exactly what Madison stands for. She believes so strongly in saving our sharks and oceans and her passion continues to inspire many people around her. Following the film’s release in Australia, several supermarkets voluntarily stopped selling shark meat, others are now considering it. This is a major change in attitude. And it’s not only legislation that can stop destructive practises like shark finning, it’s each and everyone of us who can contribute – starting to talk, reflect, rethink and act. Once you understand what’s happening, it’s easy to do the right thing.”

The film producers gave MNS Selangor Branch Marine Group the right to screen it for one-time in Malaysia. The film won many awards including the PANDA Award for the best Environment & Conservation film at Wildscreen Film Festival 2014.

“Thus, through this engagement with Golden Screen Cinemas, we hope that this campaign will educate and engage more people to be concerned about shark population decline and pledge to end the consumption and trade of shark fin products in Malaysia,” added Wong.

Note: To buy limited edition shark badges, click here. 

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