Help Your Britain – Bite Back

Continuing with our Help Your Britain campaign today marks the third user-nominated charity to be showcased on Bing. We’ll be showcasing the work of a small UK charity on the last Friday of each month enabling the cause to tell its own story.

There are more than 187,000 registered charities across Great Britain with a story to be told, many of whom will never be heard due to the lack of resources at their disposal. We’re shining the spotlight on these unsung British heroes as part of a long-term campaign, enabling you, the British public, to nominate the charities you would like to see featured on the homepage on the final Friday of each month via www.bing.com/HelpYourBritain.

Today is the turn of …

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Run entirely on voluntary donations, Bite-Back is a pioneering shark and marine conservation charity with a mission to halt the trade and consumption of vulnerable fish species. In the last 60 years alone, an estimated 90 per cent of big sharks have been wiped out, many of which due to the demand in shark fin soup. Without intervention, experts believe that up to 20 species of shark could become extinct within the next five years. With a potentially disastrous knock-on effect on the oceans’ ecosystems, Bite-Back actively promotes sustainable fishing to protect ocean habitats and inspire worldwide respect for the marine environment.

A week in the life of Graham Buckingham, Campaign Director at Bite-Back.

You might imagine that a shark and marine conservation charity would have a beach-fronted office facing the sea but the team at Bite-Back run its internet-based campaigns from a small office in Surrey, close to the Thames.

With myself as the one full-time member of staff, supported by a number of skilled volunteers, every week at Bite-Back is busy.

Most of our work centres around inviting restaurants and retailers to stop selling fish that are known to be at threat from over-fishing like shark, swordfish, marlin, monkfish, skates and rays.

One key Bite-Back project is a campaign to ‘Make Britain’s Retailers Shark-Free’ and this week we’ve been following up on reports of six new restaurants selling shark steaks and three others selling shark fin soup. If the reports are accurate we’ll add the details of each restaurant to our online Shark Sightings Map and then develop a programme of engagement to inspire them to stop. Typically this will involve support from scuba clubs and divers in the areas closest to the identified restaurants.

Only recently one central London supporter downloaded our shark fin soup letter – co-signed by Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Martin Clunes among others – and used it to invite a local restaurant to stop selling the controversial dish. Within six weeks, the restaurant had changed its menu for good.

Later in the week the team is catching up with the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather who are working on a pro bono television commercial for Bite-Back. It’s a gritty, no-holds-barred expose of the cruelty that is shark finning – a barbaric practice where fishermen slice the fins off a live shark and throw the body back into the sea.

Since raising money for shark and marine conservation programmes is tough, we’ve got a meeting scheduled to look at innovative ways to make ends meet. This week Bite-Back is signing up to www.easyfundraising.org.uk. It’s a web site that enables supporters to raise funds every time they spend money at over 2000 online retail stores.

We’ll also be moving forward on an exciting project with an art director who has volunteered his skills to help us create a set of free educational literature and schools materials. Engagement with kids will be key to achieving our long-term goals and this project is starting to look really smart.

However, one of the team can’t wait for the week to end since he’s off to join the multi-award winning British dive holiday company, www.blueotwo.com in the Red Sea on an educational shark trip to study oceanic white tips. Of course we’re not jealous!

If you would like to see your charity of choice take over the Bing homepage, you can nominate them here:

www.bing.com/HelpYourBritain Don’t forget to get involved with the conversation on Facebook and Twitter #HelpYourBritain

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