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An update from the Fin Free Cambridge Campaign.

Fin Free Cambridge Campaign recently made great progress in keeping sharks in the sea and out of the soup. The group is a grassroots movement campaigning to raise awareness about the stark reality of the shark fin industry and for a total ban on shark fin products in Cambridge, saving sharks one city at a time.

The campaign had a success last month when volunteers from the group delivered a petition with more than five thousand signatures to the Guildhall. Fin Free Cambridge demanded Cambridge City Council came out vocally against shark finning and took the strongest measures possible to ensure that Cambridge become shark fin free. As a result of months of campaigning on February 21st Cambridge City council voted unanimously in favour of the motion to thus making Cambridge City the first in the UK to officially take shark fin off the menu.

Currently the UK is ranked 19th in the world for shark fin exports. Out of the 100 million sharks that are killed annually, shark finning is responsible for 73 million deaths. Shark finning is the removal of the fin by hacking it off the shark's body or using some other equally brutal technique. The other parts of the shark are not utilised in any way. The still living body of the shark is thrown back into the water where it slowly starves to death, gets eaten or drowns. Shark finning is causing all sorts of problems, from depleting fish stocks (not just sharks) to fuelling an illegal trade. At the moment a third of all shark species are facing extinction. Oceanic Whitetips and Hammerheads have depleted by as much as 99% from their original populations. So what's the big deal about sharks? They've been around 450 million years, and are so well evolved as top predators they have hardly changed their look in all those years. As with every other species sharks are an integral part of ocean life. They regulate fish, squid and crustacean populations, remove diseased animals from the ecosystem and help maintain the balance in the deep. The methodical elimination of their species has given rise to the degradation of coral reefs and depleted fish populations. Without sharks patrolling the waters large fish binge on smaller fish causing the small fish to run out which then impacts badly on large fish as they run out of food. Taking out the top predator doesn't always lead to an increase in other species. Sharks have a slow reproduction rate, they take up to fifteen years to reach maturity and if they manage to make it that far only produce one or two baby sharks per year; pair those stats up with over-fishing and it won't be long until we end up with nil sharks.

SchNEWS spoke to Fin Free Cambridge Campaign co-founder, Lou Ruddell, on Tuesday (26th) about the successes of the campaign so far and plans for the future.


When did the campaign start?”

The Campaign was founded last September after an ocean awareness talk I gave at Lush in Cambridge. Myself and fellow ocean activist Teale Phelps Bondaroff decided to start a campaign group in Cambridge that would highlight the practice of shark finning - as this is something we both feel very passionately about - and which would ultimately attempt to stop the sale of shark fin within the city itself.


What was the public response to the campaign?”

The overall public response to our campaign has been very positive, we have invested a lot of effort in raising awareness; as many people don't know what shark finning is or do not realise the destruction it is causing to marine ecosystems and shark population numbers. Once you have made people aware it becomes easier to address an issue and make change - which is exactly what we found, and once people in Cambridge knew that shark fin was for sale in their city and understood what that meant for the planet, they were outraged and called for this to be removed. We have also had a great deal of support from all around the globe from individuals and other shark fin campaign groups, and Sea Shepherd UK have also been very present and fully supportive of all our campaign efforts.


Any particular event that stands out in your mind from this year?”

Off the back of the campaign success, I was very honoured to be asked to be the guest speaker at this years Model United Nations Conference in Bath where I lectured to over 1000 students from across Europe. This was great as many of the young people have since approached us about helping with the campaign and want to set up projects at their schools on shark finning and marine issues; many of these students had no prior knowledge of shark finning - and for me this goes to show the importance of spreading awareness and how this can galvanize people in to action; People cant act against something if they know nothing about it.


Where does the campaign plan to go from here, any plans for the future you would like to announce?”

“After this campaign success Fin Free Cambridge plan to become a UK wide campaign group, under the name FIN FIGHTERS UK and the focus of this new group will be not only to repeat our efforts in Cambridge in other cities across the country – building momentum and a network of fin free cities, but we also want to work with other grass roots groups to get their cites fin free, acting as a support structure and information base/consultancy. We will continue and enlarge our outreach program; educating and informing about shark finning as well as a range of other marine focused issues, such as plastics. Hopefully we can get funding to become a network base for UK city's working toward a total UK ban!”


Anyone interested in setting up a similar group in their own city can contact the campaign and become a fellow fin fighter. Check out their website and facebook for more information.


There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Chandan - 17th May 2013 @ 5:38 PM
There are a lot of shark conservation vnutoleer opportunities around the world! Most you can find online through a simple search or by becoming involved in shark conservation organisations. You can help with monitoring shark populations and behaviour, beach clean-ups which help all kinds of marine life, educating people about sharks at marine centres, supporting marine conservation campaigns, or writing about the issue in your spare time. With organisations such as the Shark Trust, you can also adopt' a shark. Just keep learning and sharing your passion, any way you can! Good luck!
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