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Belfountain author writes book about sharks

December 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments


A Belfountain resident wrote an ecological thriller exploring an alarming issue around the world.

David Kendall’s novel Slag follows the life of a Canadian immigrant spurned by the rest of Indian society, bound by the belief that he earned his life of lowly drudgery in a previous incarnation.

An ecological thriller can be described as a novel that combines action, adventure and thrills but with a threat, either man-made or natural to the environment that can cause local disaster or global destruction.

The novel follows the life of Inama Meena. A dalit, he soon discovers the dark world of the illegal shark finning while working as a street cleaner in Spadina Ave. in Toronto.

“He is born a dilat, said Kendall. One of 200 million who are so low, they don’t even enter the lowest class. There are four main classes in India. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, each one below the other. The last 200 million are so low they have no class.”

“Under the Brahmin created religion of Hindu, it is believed that you are born into a state that you deserve to be in from your previous life. You earned it by your sins or your merits in your previous existence. If you’re a Brahmin, you have the right to be at the top because you did wondrous things in your previous life.”

Kendall traveled to India to research for his novel. He visited Ganoda learning that the inhabitants speak Sanskrit, an ancient language in India.

He also went to the University of Jaipur where they have a Sanskrit faculty department speaking with professors there and visited the Centre for Dilat studies. The cast system has been banned in the Indian constitution since 1949

“Under the cast system, you stay where you belong…because you keep yourself down,” said Kendall. You believe you deserve the awful drudgery under which you exist. That’s the cast system.”

“This story has two main themes. It deals with the trade in shark fins and the character will deal with the issue of whether such a person, who believes he is the scum of the earth, can come to Canada, the land of the free, and break through and free himself.”

Kendall also visited Nova Scotia where he interviewed professors while on a boat with students. They participated in the Ocean Tracking Network where they caught sharks on a big heavy barb less hook and inserted a device into the shark to track their movements.

“These were all blue sharks, said Kendal. We caught eight of them. We’d lift them up into the boat. They turned the shark over so that its belly is facing to the sky. The big fin goes down through the slit in the stretcher.”

“As soon as they turn over, the sharks go motionless. It’s called tonic immobility. They put a hose in the mouth of the shark so it has water going through. The professor made a small cut in the skin of stomach and inserted a little device of the same size as a lipstick container and then quickly sowed it up and then they put the shark back in and it went away.”

Shark finning has been banned in Canada since 1994, however they can still be imported. Over 140,750 kilograms of shark fins were imported in 2016, worth about $3.08 million, according to 2016 Statistics Canada data.

Kendall said Canada and the United States have stopped the finning of sharks but have not banned it entirely.

“They put in a law that says if you take the fins off the shark, you have to bring the carcass to shore,” said Kendall. The fin is five per cent of the weight of the shark. The problem with shark meat is that it’s infused with urea. I read it’s a form of urination that they do, it actually sweats out. One way or another, it’s actually toxic to humans. It’s a waste. The catch the shark and throw it away.”

“I have eaten shark fin soup. Shark fin soup is interesting in the sense it has no taste virtually because it’s just cartilage. When you have shark fin soup, it has a whole lot of herbs plus chicken and broth in order to give it taste. The only thing that can be said for shark fin itself, is the texture. It’s the feel in the mouth that makes it seemingly attractive. It’s a totally tasteless and an even boring waste of time. All the taste is coming from outside ingredients but it’s a thing. It’s a highly expensive product. I had it in Hong Kong once.”

Shark fins are traditionally made in soup and served as an expensive delicacy. Most run up to $15 a pound while a bowl can cost more than $100.

About 1,000 shark and ray species around the world are threatened, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is in large part due to overfishing.

“By putting in a rule that they have to bring the full shark to shore, they basically made it uneconomic, said Kendall. A large number of the sharks is bycatch. They have a long line out, it might be 40 kilometres long, and the long line is fishing for other pelagic fish, tuna and yellow fin.”

“The shark bites on the bate and it’s hook. They bring it in several hours later and sometimes it’s dead because sharks can only breathe when they’re swimming, unlike the other fish.”

“Often it’s dead but not the majority of cases. Other times, it’s likely to die because its gut hooked. If it’s just in the lips and the mouth, they can let it go. It’s tricky, because you’re dealing with a shark, so they kill the shark, throw it over but they take the fins off it. Because they’re going to throw away the shark body, because you have might get a lot of those in the 40-kilometre line, you’re now going to have to get rid of them illegally.”

“We banned the bringing of fins to shore unless you brought the body with it but we didn’t ban the importing of fins. If you have, a fisherman offshore who catches a whole lot of fins, he takes them out and takes over the Asia and then Asia ship them back to the Chinese population. They can enter perfectly legally into this country.”

“We have this illegal trade. It’s legal as it enters the country but it’s illegally killing them and taking them over there and in fact it’s bypassing the rules and what we’re leading to is an extermination of a species.”

Proceeds from the novel will go to the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy. His father, Douglas Kendall, was a signatory to the letters patent at the birth of the Bruce Trail back in 1968. A donated section of the Bruce Trail’s optimum route crosses his Belfountain property.

With three million new people projected to reside in the Golden Horseshoe around Toronto over the next 25 years, the Bruce Trail is desperate to try to acquire its properties for the route as soon as possible because it will become more difficult to do so later on.

The Bruce Trail’s ideal route works closely with the Escarpment and it does below his property. Kendall has donated seven acres of land to the Bruce Trail that they owned below the cliff.

Slag is now in two Belfountain coffee shops, the Renaissance in Erin, Book Lore and Readers’ Choice in Orangeville, and Foster’s Book Garden in Bolton. It’s also available as an e-book by entering the websites of the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy.



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