Recently Bite-Back’s founder and campaign director, Graham Buckingham, was invited to speak at a prestigious TEDx conference about the charity and his journey from being scared of sharks to being scared for sharks.
In the 15 minute presentation Graham explains how the movie JAWS had shaped his perception of sharks; about his experiences as a diver; and crucially, after dozens of dives in different parts of the world without witnessing a shark, his life-changing question ‘where have all the sharks gone?’
The revelation that tens of millions of sharks were being slaughtered every year — with many targeted simply for their fins — was enough for Graham to invite a local restaurant selling shark fin soup to change its menu.
Graham said: “There’s a sinister side to shark fin soup that many people won’t know. Because the fins are worth so much more than the meat, fishermen will haul the shark to the boat and hack off the fins before discarding the, still-living, shark overboard to die. It’s the marine equivalent of killing an elephant for its tusks.”
After a number of repeated visits to the restaurant the manager finally agreed to remove shark fin soup from the menu.
Graham said: “It made perfect sense to me that over-consumption of shark products was the reason sharks were being slaughtered in such huge numbers. So it followed that if we could help reduce the demand for shark items, we could impact the need to hunt these magnificent creatures.”
It was the concept that became the cornerstone of the shark and marine conservation charity.
The presentation describes the early breakthroughs the charity enjoyed with supermarkets and shark fin soup restaurants and then outlines how hundreds of people — including Steve Backshall, Gordon Ramsay and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall — have put pressure on restaurants and businesses to end the sale of shark fin soup and other shark products.
Graham explained: “The planet depends on the health of the oceans and healthy oceans depend on sharks. It’s time for people to review what they think they know about sharks — after all JAWS wasn’t a documentary — and learn to see them as awesome, fascinating and incredible creatures worthy of protection.”
More than a decade on from Graham’s first restaurant victory, Bite-Back is now regarded as one of the most important and influential shark charities operating in the UK.
Please share this TEDx talk with anyone you know who likes sharks and especially with those who don’t.