Rob Stewart was a conservationist, shark activist, author, biologist, filmmaker and the founder of United Conservationists in 2009, and its Fin Free movement. His films, Sharkwater, Revolution and Sharkwater Extinction brought awareness for ocean conservation, changed laws and public policy, and created hundreds of ocean conservation groups.
His work to save sharks has resulted in more than 100 countries banning shark finning and 41 countries banning shark finning, shark fishing or the shark fin trade entirely. Fourteen U.S. states and three territories have banned shark fins. Hotels, theme parks, and airlines have banned shark fins.
Since Sharkwater, marine protected areas have increased by more than 23 million square kilometers.
Sadly, in 2017 Rob died in a tragic dive accident while filming his final movie, Sharkwater Extinction. In 2018, his family and friends created the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation to continue his mission to “Live in harmony with nature.”
Together United Conservationists and Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation have been busy fulfilling that mandate.
Research: Sharkwater continued to research and document sharks and oceans in the Eastern Tropical Pacific in Costa Rica, Socorro, Guadeloupe, Malpelo Island.
Research in the British Virgin Islands with Richard Branson and BVI Unite to allow governments to add shark protections/expand marine parks with a goal to providing a safe corridor through the Caribbean.
Shark protection legislation that Rob initiated in Turks and Caicos has continued through the Foundation working with local conservation groups and government officials.
Advocacy: Our team attended numerous meetings and events in Ottawa and were witnesses at Senate Fisheries Committee hearings, studying the Canadian Shark Fin Trade ban. We engaged leaders within the Asian community to ensure officials understood there would be no “cultural” backlash. Canada banned the Shark Fin Trade in June 2019, citing Rob’s work as the impetus.
Presentations and meetings with legislators, staffers and government officials in D.C. to build awareness for shark conservation. Our efforts aided in the U.S. House passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act by the end of 2019. We continued to work with politicians and other government departments through 2020. On June 8, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act.
Shark Free: Worked with cosmetics regulators in U.S./Canada/International to assist manufacturers, distributors and supply chains to remove shark squalene from their products.
Team Sharkwater created the Saving Sharks PSA that amassed millions of views — A quick look at why Sharks Matter. Through the “Summer of Sharks” the team continued shark conservation awareness through Discovery’s Sharkweek and Nat Geo’s Sharkfest, as well as a Senate push to pass the Shark Fin Sales Act.
Developed programs to bring awareness to Florida legislators as well as Fish and Wildlife Services for a complete ban on the Florida shark fin trade. Florida passed a shark fin trade ban in 2020.
Promoted awareness for New Jersey ban that passed in 2020.
Team Sharkwater completed more than 50 trips worldwide in the last two years to advocate for sharks and ocean conservation.
Attended many events, including at the Cannes Film Festival for United Nations; Monaco Better World Foundation; London premiere hosted by Princess Eugenie with Sam Branson; Hong Kong premiere hosted by Princess Eugenie; Los Angeles premiere attended by numerous celebs; D.C. premiere attended by government officials, Coast Guard and conservation groups. Sharkwater Extinction premiere in Costa Rica for government officials and conservation groups to further shark legislation. And a U.N. screening in Tunisia for government officials hosted by Canadian Embassy.
United Nations and European Commission presentation of Sharkwater Extinction with Q&A panel to outline issues such as shark finning, deep sea fishing for shark livers and the corresponding impact on poor nations and economically challenged local communities.
Brought International support for CITES Mako protections, which passed in 2019.
The Foundation continues to distribute educational information on sharks and ocean conservation through unrestricted website access. We continued the work of Fin Free in Asia through translated educational materials and public screenings with local conservation groups.
United Conservationists/Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation grants free license usage of Rob’s films for educational uses, translated into Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese.