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In Focus: Shark Champions

In Focus: Shark Champions
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The Plymouth-based Shark Trust is the only British NGO solely dedicated to advancing shark, skate and ray conservation through fact and science-led work, including government liaison, awareness campaigns, education and advocacy.To meet the ever-increasing demand for shark fin soup, sharks are being overfished towards extinction. But even sea creatures have heroes. In June 2011, Shark Trust presented Shark Champion awards to Xingsheng Zhang, Ding Liguo and Wan Jie, recognising the conservation initiative taken by the three men.

Ding is a member of the Peoples National Congress (PNC), Wan belongs to the China People’s Political Consultative Council (CPPCC), and Zhang is the Managing Director of The Nature Conservancy (north Asia). Aware that China consumes 95 per cent of the world’s supply of shark fins, Zhang suggested that Wan and Ding propose legislation banning their import into Mainland China. The two gathered the requisite number of signatures in both the PNC and the CPPCC, and sent the proposed legislation on to government.  Should it pass, the ban on importing shark fins into China will be history’s single largest development in shark conservation.

A UK NGO presenting conservation awards to China’s three “shark champions” marked a new angle in Chinese-British bilateral relations, which may include future cooperation in filmmaking. Director of the forthcoming documentary The Fin Trail Steve Bowles travelled to Beijing to record the award presentations; conservation efforts in China are so significant that Bowles shifted the film’s focus to highlight the three men. The Fin Trail opens up important bilateral partnership opportunities, such as collaborating with Chinese broadcasters for production support and seeking commercial sponsorship with Chinese multi-nationals.

The Fin Trail will be a full-length feature documentary targeted globally for theatre release, DVD sales, Internet and specialist media as well as shorter TV versions. The film is a co-production between Eye Witness Productions Limited (UK) and Elasmo Films (UK) and is scheduled for release early in 2013.  
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