04 January 2011

Chef Gordon Ramsay’s life threatened while investigating shark abuse

Britain’s celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently traveled to Costa Rica for an investigation into the cruel world of shark finning for his latest TV show Big Fish Fight. When Ramsay met with the gangsters responsible for the gruesome trade, he was covered in gasoline and held at gunpoint with his crew before being told by local police to leave the country or risk being shot.

Ramsay told Britain’s Daily Mail:

These gangs operate from places that are like forts, with barbed-wire perimeters and gun towers. At one, I managed to shake off the people who were keeping us away, ran up some stairs to a rooftop and looked down to see thousands and thousands of fins, drying on rooftops for as far as the eye could see. When I got back downstairs, they tipped a barrel of petrol over me.

Later on the same trip, Ramsay contacted a local fisherman who supplies shark fins to international clients:

In a quiet moment I dived from the boat to swim with marlin. I swam under the keel and saw this sack tied to it. I opened it and it was full of shark fins, huge ones from 20-year-olds. How they do it is quite upsetting. They shock them with an electric prod, but the shark’s still moving while they cut it up and throw it back dying into the water. No wonder they wanted to hide the evidence. The minute I threw this bag on deck, everyone started screaming and shouting. Back at the wharf, there were people pointing rifles at us to stop us filming. A van pulled up and these seedy characters made us stand against a wall. The police came and advised us to leave the country. They said, “If you set one foot in there, they’ll shoot you.”

Shark finning is a multi-million dollar industry, with fins selling for up to $300 per pound.

In December the Senate joined the House to protect sharks by banning the act of shark finning. The updated Shark Conservation Act aims to protect sharks by closing a previous loophole which allowed illegally obtained shark fins to be transported as long as the sharks had not been finned on the vessel.

Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. She has a gorgeous daughter in second grade who has been a vegetarian her whole life (lucky girl). Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/54397539@N06


  1. Is Chef Ramsey a vegetarian? That's all nice and thoughtful of him to investigate shark abus,e but why not start ending cruelty to animals by keeping meat off your own plate? It's rediculous when people think they are doing something noble for the sake of animals yet they eat them everyday.

  2. when you make food political, you become irrelevant. End of story, the holier than thou stance about being a vegan is off-putting. Get over yourself.

  3. Fins forever1/4/11, 11:08 AM

    Yes, I see your point - but cows are not an endangered species. Over 90% of most shark species are gone, and the fishing rates (for shark fin soup) are so high that sharks can not replace themselves. Sharks also hold a really important position in the ecosystem. So it is not just a cruelty issue.

  4. Gordon Ramsey should take some time and view Sharkwater the Canadian made Documentary by Rob Stewart that truly explains the current threat to mankind caused by the decimation of sharks in the worlds oceans. And it is Rob who exposed the Taiwanese mafia in Costa Rica and brought this to the attention of governments around the world - the film has won over 35 awards around the world and deserves to have someone like Gordon Ramsey support it!

  5. Glad to see Gordon Ramsay is highlighting this issue but.... in answer to another comment, he is most definitely not a vegetarian! He's well known for being quite dismissive of vegetarian food and famously (on TV) deliberately gave a pizza with ham to a vegetarian, lying that the pizza was veggie. So not funny.