Friday 24 October 2014

Ten Years Of Bite-Back

I was lucky enough to be freed from my writing cage at the bottom of Pier32 this week, accompanying Guru Ian and Super Sandi to an very cool event - a party to celebrate ten years of marine conservation charity Bite-Back. And where else would they choose to host it than at the Sea-life London Aquarium?

Bite-back focuses largely on the conservation of sharks, who are rapidly becoming an endangered species. As you read this, over 59 million sharks will have been killed this year alone, and the numbers are rising. 

Let's get a few prejudices out of the way. It's unfortunate that when we think of sharks, John William's theme to Jaws rises unbidden into our heads. But they are simply not predatory to humans. Let's put this into perspective: the fact that shark attacks make the news is because they are such rare events. For every person killed or injured by a shark, 25 million sharks are killed. In 2013 (a peak year for shark attacks) 12 people died. Humanity, meanwhile, was killing a shark every four seconds. Whether through 'sport' fishing, or for culinary and medicinal use, we have the upper hand over those beautiful, graceful creatures. Writer Joe Chernoff and Ripetungi Studios collaborated on an infographic that makes the situation clear, which you can see in its full, scrolly goodness here.

Graham Buckingham, man of the sea

Bite-Back is largely the work of one man: Graham Buckingham, whose tireless energy and tenacity have helped to knock shark and other endangered fish like marlin and swordfish off the menu at big supermarkets like Asda. His latest campaign, to stop UK restaurants from selling shark-fin soup (shark's fin is tasteless, and the method of harvesting it is almost unbearably cruel) has already won a ban on the dish from high-profile restaurants like Hakkasan. The party at Sea-Life (with whom Bite-Back have recently begun a three-year partnership) was a celebration of everything he's done in the past decade to protect vulnerable marine life from the most dangerous predator of all... man. It was a chance, too, to get an up-close look at what he and Team Bite-Back are fighting for. I have to tell you that there are worse ways to spend a damp Wednesday evening than wandering around an aquarium with a glass of fizz getting a bit of quality time with a hammerhead. 

Pier32 are long-time collaborators with Bite-Back (you can buy the t-shirts and hoodies that we supply at the Bite-Back shop) and it was an honour to be invited to this week's shindig. We consider ourselves proud members of Team Bite-Back. Here's to another ten years of keeping the oceans safe for shark-kind.

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