CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana man who said he was “appalled” by a television show that offers contestants money to kill vulnerable species of sharks has launched a campaign to end the series, and he’s already making headway.
AJ Mills, who majored in zoology in college and runs a scuba shop in Indianapolis, told The Indianapolis Star he was stunned to see a commercial for “Shark Hunters: The sharks are on the hook, and there’s money on the line” while watching a Formula One race on NBC Sports recently.
The show features three tournaments that award money to contestants who bring in dead mako, thresher or porbeagle sharks.
All three species are listed as vulnerable by The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. That’s one step away from being endangered.
“If we don’t have sharks, the ocean dies, we die,” Mills said. “That’s really the fact. We kill all the sharks? We’re done.”
Mills launched a petition on Change.org and already has more than 85,000 signatures. He’s contacted NBC Sports asking for cancellation of the show. He’s turned to social media, creating a Twitter account @cancelsharkhunt that has drawn support from people like Jacques Cousteau’s grandson, Fabien Cousteau. And shark scientists have been calling him nonstop to back his cause.
Mills said many advertisers pulled their ads from the show, which just wrapped up its second season. But it’s still shown several times a week, and a third season is planned.
NBC Sports didn’t respond to requests seeking comment. But Mills received a letter from Dan Masonson, a senior director of communications at NBC Sports.
In it, Masonson said the show complies with state and local laws and rules set forth by fishing and gaming commissions and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Mills said viewers wouldn’t see people killing or injuring other endangered or vulnerable species, such as the red panda, polar bear or the clouded leopard, on television. He wants the same standards applied to sharks.
“No way you would show any of this on television,” he said. “But because sharks have this image from (the movie) ‘Jaws’ it’s OK.”
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com
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