Gordon Ramsay – Shark Bait Review: Biting..

GORDON RAMSAY – SHARK BAIT: Sunday 16th January, C4, 9pm

I’m sure there are many people out there that would relish the thought of Gordon Ramsay being eaten by sharks. In truth, they’d probably spit him out with protests that he was too leathery or high in cholesterol. He’s not exactly the first person that springs to mind when presenting a conservation documentary.

In a similar vein to the much commented upon piece of “campaign-tertainment” Hugh’s Fish Fight earlier this week, Gordon travels to Taiwan, which has one of the largest shark fishing industries in the world. But it’s not bureaucratic legislation that looms over this production, it’s the lure of cold hard cash. Sharks are caught for only one reason – their fins. This is used in the traditional Chinese dish shark’s fin soup but as the rest of the shark has almost no value, carcasses are routinely thrown back into the sea – a needlessly cruel and wasteful process. Gordon tries the dish and finds it unremarkable; the broth it’s served in is tasty but the shark’s fin seems to add nothing.

Even more shocking is the process of “finningâ€? where sharks are caught, have their fins cut off while they’re still alive before being dumped overboard It’s truly a deplorable practice which one shark conservationist likens to cutting a lion’s paws off before leaving it to bleed to death on the savannah.

The scale of the operation is staggering – Gordon at one point finds an entire neighbourhood block dedicated to drying sharks’ fins on their roofs, the thousands of fins lined up on racks in the sun is a particularly disturbing image. With no regulation on the number of sharks that can be caught, Taiwanese docks are overflowing with shark fins.

The people are clearly edgy about the process – maitre d’s aren’t keen for him to speak to customers and he has more doors slammed in his face than a particularly reprehensible life insurance salesman – clearly they’ve had conservationists poking their noses into their business before.

Upon Gordon’s return to the UK, he quickly rounds up some of Chinatown’s top restaurants and presents his case for the removal of shark’s fin soup from the menu – arguing that it’s only the demand for the soup which makes the fins valuable. Four of them have subsequently agreed – it’s a small start but hopefully in light of this programme others will do the same.