Turning Tides for Sharks, How the World Can Meet UN Goals

Turning Tides by Vivian Guido.

Turning Tides: Sustainability Measures for Shark Conservation, a feature documentary produced by Vivian Guido, a Masters of Environmental Studies graduate and Shark Stewards intern, was selected and screened at the United Nations COP28 conference in Dubai. The film, created in association with the United Nations Youth Climate Report project and the non profit organization Shark Stewards, screened three times at the COP28 conference and captured the attention of many delegates, policymakers, and attendees. The first screening and official premiere of the film was on the opening night of the conference (Nov. 30th) at the Canada Pavilion. The second screening (Dec. 3rd) took place inside the Blue Zone through the Civil Society Climate Justice Hub. The third and final screening of the conference (Dec. 6th) was in the Al Wakri Theatre, also in the Blue Zone.

Turning Tides explores the progress of Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water (SDG14). The film follows the 10 targets of SDG14, and utilizes information and studies through marine biologist and founder of Shark Stewards non profit, David McGuire, to determine current areas of success and areas of improvement in marine conservation. Using sharks as an indicator of ocean health, Turning Tides is a documentary that informs and influences viewers on how climate change impacts the environment of sharks, while also affecting the health of global oceans and communities. With various case studies from around the globe, the film connects and links marine ecosystem and biodiversity conservation issues, while discussing possible solutions. 

The majority of the production took place in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where Vivian and the Shark Stewards team shot and collected interview and underwater video footage. Additional footage was supplied from David McGuire. The film also includes animations and statistics supporting the evidence presented in the interview. The film was produced and assembled in just over 6 months, with the help of a video editor and academic supervisors. 

Film is a medium that goes beyond language, and with today’s generation of young people who are  more familiar and well versed with media and technology, film can make a significant impact in conveying science information to them. Documentary film, specifically, can help to share up to date and accurate science information with broader audiences that may not be familiar with scientific terms. Through strong visual evidence and engaging content portrayed through film, viewers not only become interested in marine science content, but also form connections with biodiversity that they see on the screen. Turning Tides acts as a tool to bridge science, policy, and education while inspiring and influencing conservation behavior among viewers. 

Vivian’s current focus is to expand the reach of the film by submitting it to various film festivals and introducing the film into schools as a science education material. Turning Tides has already been entered into the International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco, the Prague Film Festival, the Dana Point Film Festival, the World Whale Film Festival in Hawaii and several more. 

The film concludes that we are in fact on track towards achieving SDG14: Life Below Water goals- however addressing overfishing, especially for sharks is urgently needed. Some targets such as increasing marine protected areas: protecting 10% of oceans by 2020 fell short, and have been replaced by a loftier goal of 30% by 2030. Further regulating the fishing industry and reducing Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU ) fishing is critical to recover fish stocks while supporting local artisanal fisheries. To conserve and sustainably use the oceans, governments and regulatory bodies like the multi-national Regional Fisheries Management Organizations must reduce bycatch, eliminate subsidies and enforce quotas and IUU fishing. To protect the habitat and health of marine species, such as sharks, communities and citizens must recognize the imminent threats to our world ocean and act individually and collectively for change. Our health and future are connected to health of the ocean, and as the film concludes, we can turn the tide.