THE BACK STORY...
British people eating shark. It may not sound plausible. But it happens every day! British people eating Endangered shark? Yes, that's happening here too. In top end restaurants, at fishmongers, in chip shops. And it isn't illegal.
We'd like to work with people catching, distributing and selling shark to:
1. Protect sharks, especially the endangered ones
2. Protect people - we've tested shark for heavy metals - they are seriously bad for you!
3. Protect the oceans by making sure the top predators don't become extinct
This isn't a problem isolated to the UK, but we're based in Bristol so we are starting our UK and global movement here. Our crowd funder aims to change things locally and inspire change nationally.
How can it be legal to eat endangered sharks? Not just sharks! It's legal to eat endangered animals, unless a law states otherwise... and there aren't many laws like that. An animal is endangered if it sits within the IUCN's [International Union for Conservation of Nature] rarity criteria. The IUCN say 'Endangered' animals can be Near Threatened, Endangered, or Critically Endangered. However, the IUCN is non-governmental. It is up to governments to legislate. You may have heard of CITES but that's about trade and often Critically Endangered animals can be legally eaten if they weren't traded across international boundaries. It's important to stress noone is doing anything ILLEGAL in terms of sharks in the UK, but things obviously need to change...
THE CROWD FUNDER - WHAT WILL IT DO?
FUND A LOCAL MOVEMENT: FinFighters have been working hard to make Bristol shark fin and meat free. Sharks that are listed as endangered are commercially available in the city, as are species on the brink of becoming endangered. These top predators contain toxic heavy metals, and removing them destabilises the ocean ecosystem. 5000 Bristolians have petitioned the council and Bristol City Council have subsequently voted in favour of this change. FinFighters now needs to lead this change! As Bristol becomes shark fin and shark meat free we want to work with those presently selling shark to help the city during this important transition into sustainability. We don't want to leave anyone behind - we want to engender positive, sustainable and inclusive change. We don't want people who were unaware of the implications of their actions to feel isolated. So we will be holding workshops with restaurant owners & fishmongers, developing explanatory literature, and making a project film to explain the necessity of a shark free Britain and how Bristol's pioneering spirit can pave the way. We want to find positive and inclusive solutions that see Bristol safeguarding sharks.
MAKE A FILM: "Finito" is an exciting film, which is partly made already. FinFighters are going to use this as a vehicle for positive action by urging its viewers to help Britain transition to shark fin and shark meat free. It begins in Morocco, showing work by FinFighters in demonstrating the extent of shark fishing there and how solutions have been found. We then understand Morocco's sharks are migratory and are, in fact, also the UK's sharks!!! [all this has already been produced and edited!]...
In the final [crowd funded] part of the film we want to use Bristol as a case study to outline the trade in shark in the UK, the associated health concerns, the fact these animals are often listed as endangered species and what that really means in terms of protection. We want to exemplify Bristol by showing, on screen, the positive movement that this crowd funder will have facilitated, thereby setting a template for change across the UK and the Western world. We want Bristol's restaurant and chip shop owners to be championed as ambassadors for change. We want people to see what inclusivity - and recently being European Green Capital - can achieve in terms of not only local but global action!
As well as making the film, we'll be hosting local film screenings [hopefully including @Bristol's Big Screen!], tutoring UWE wildlife filmmaking students in conservation storytelling, and working with Wildscreen and the BBC Natural History Unit. We enjoy a strong working relationship with Bristol Aquarium & will be attending Bristol's Food Festival to share our positive messaging too.
THE THANK YOU GIFTS
In return for pledges there are some SERIOUSLY SHARKY thank you packages which you can read all about in our Donations and Rewards section. We're offering tickets to Shark Fest - the biggest celebration of sharks in the UK, and the Finito film movie premiere! There's 'Sea Urchins', a kid's magazine that inspires little ones to a love of the ocean. There are wildlife tours to pledge for, or attending a talk from BBC Shark. However, there are many other goodies too, and since a picture speaks a thousand words here's some to whet your appetite!
In every package upwards from, and including, the Blacktip Reef Shark Package - amongst other goodies - you get this dreamy photo of a Caribbean reef shark to print out and ogle at your leisure.
There's a pretty special Honoloulou's greetings card up for grabs...
And we've had some incredible handcrafted bespoke pottery made by Ella Phillips!
Then of course there's the humdinging limited edition t-shirts! Available in azure or purple [the one below shows the design but not the colour...] Lou is wearing the azure in our project promo!
From £50 pledges upwards there's even some very tasty jewellery to sink your teeth into...
Pledge £50 for this Jawsome Necklace, as well as loads of other amazing things c/o Honoloulou's in Bristol!
£75 will get you [as well as many other gifts & a fuzzy shark-saving feeling] a VERY tasty JAWS Inspired Acrylic Shark Necklace:
Or feast your peepers on our range of pledges from £100 to get your mitts on a TIGER SHARK BROOCH or a MAKO NECKLACE amongst other incredible Honoloulou wares!
Thanks for all your pledges! You're all jawsome. Finfighters x
WHO ARE THE FINFIGHTERS?
Everyone is a volunteer!
FinFighters was founded by Lou Ruddell when she went to uni and was told on Day 1 that some shark species would be extinct by the time her course finished. So, she decided to save the sharks instead. Not being a scientist necessitated finding specialist help for investigation work, and Lou found the perfect ally in Manchester's PhD candidate Sam Hook. Today FinFighters have genetically profiled shark species in Morocco with the aim of quantifying species numbers to assess rarity, and show the Moroccan government what's really happening in their ports. Determined to be inclusive, they are working with local fishermen to find solutions. The science work is groundbreaking - they've even discovered a new shark migration route for Bigeye Thresher Shark. Once we know where sharks live, and travel to, we can get appropriate safeguards in place. Sam and Lou have also launched a Citizen Shark Programme in the UK to better under what's being sold and where. The overall aim is to create a database for genetic barcodes, encouraging fishermen to catch appropriate species.
Below: Lou and Sam delivering Citizen Science at Shark Fest
Phil is Lou's partner in crime. He's a Bristol based artist and another great example that non-scientists who are empassioned can stand up for what they believe in and use their skills and talents for the greater good! Thanks to Phil we've got a man stroking a shark James Bond style in our promo film!
Lou, Phil & Sam have done great work in Bristol to date. Enter FinFighters Jasmine Tribe, who worked tirelessly in delivering SharkFest last year, the UK's biggest ever celebration of sharks, hosted by Bristol's M Shed.
Below: Lou and Jasmine at SharkFest
There are other Finfighters too - Livia is facilitation manager and Clemency does social media.
Finally there's Matt who has set up this crowd funder. He is a wildlife filmmaker who wants to see more conservation films on TV. He is proud to have worked on prestige programmes like Planet Earth II but also believes low budget conservation films with strong and engaging narratives can really change things. Matt is in charge of the project film, Finito. Matt considers himself a conservationist but didn't know Red List species in the three endangered categories aren't protected by law by default. Shocked to find out it is legal to eat endangered shark in the UK, he's determined to change things! I mean, that can't be right can it???