We made it, and now we’re moving forward with our next steps. Reaching the 100,000 was like opening the door to a world of politics, legal jargon and debating tactics that none of us are familiar with. Fret not though, we have recruited some wonderful people in the shark conservation and legal world to help us along this path. Collaboration is also one of Shark Guardian's core philosophies, so together with our collective wealth of experience and expertise we will continue to push forward and strongly we believe together we can make a difference!
Need a refresher on the Finspire Change campaign? Find a summary here!
The race past the finish line
But how did we get to the seemingly unreachable target of 100,000 signatures with only a month to go and still 50,000 signatures to collect? We have to admit, throughout August it was looking hit and miss as to whether we would make it. We kept our faith, continued to speak out, kept pushing and reaching out to people, asking them to share the petition far and wide… and it paid off.
On 7th September, Sea Shepherd Global shared the petition on their social media. This coupled with several other large organisations sharing in the same time frame, detailed below, saw the petition gather more signatures in a short period than ever before. On the 27th August the total was 50,000, in just two weeks the remaining 50,000 signatures were collected, with the last 20,000 collected in a 28-hour period.
At 4pm, the signature total was 80,650.
At 5:30pm, Sea Shepherd Global shared on Facebook.
At 7:30pm, Ocean Ramsey shared Sharktopia’s art relating to the campaign on Instagram.
At the same time, DiscoverSharks (2 million followers) shared a gruesome video and Finspire Change campaign details in the caption on Instagram.
By 10:30pm, the signature count was up to 88,000 and #1 trending petition on the official government petition site (for the second time) with 2,206 signatures collected per hour.
We hit 90,000 signatures by 1am – then everyone went to sleep. By midday we’d reached 94,000, by 4:30pm we’d reached 97,000 and then at 8pm on September 8th we reached 100,000!
As we reached (and flew past!) our summit of 100,000 signature, there were two live streams occurring to celebrate this moment. On Facebook, there was BBC wildlife presenters Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin and on Instagram Lizzie Daly, another wonderful wildlife presenter, and photographer Steve Woods were celebrating. We couldn’t have thought of a better way to celebrate than watching some of our biggest supporters cheering.
But why do we tell you this? Because when people know, they care and that showed. The British population care about this issue. Take note MPs!
So, what now?
As of writing we are still waiting on a debate date, despite the petition officially finishing on 11th September. There are currently around 30 petitions waiting for a debate date, several of which have been waiting more than 200 days for the date to be announced. Luckily for us, this gives us plenty of time to prepare for the debate, researching frequently asked questions, preparing counter-arguments, writing policy proposals and counter-proposals, and most importantly gaining the support of MPs. Without MPs support the debate is likely to be short-lived and be swept under the rug fairly quickly. This is not what we have all fought for so we cannot let this happen.
Routes to your MP
The first is the classic email. We have published several templates, in the form of groups of bullet points tackling specific topics you may wish to cover in your email. These can act as a guide or you can copy and paste the relevant points into your email to MPs. After originally creating an entire email for you to copy we discovered that those emails are marked as spam and head straight to the MPs junk folder! They are also easily filtered out and ignored by MPs and we do not want your efforts to be wasted. Writing your own first paragraph and then cherry-picking one or two of our useful templates will be incredibly effective, your emails will be seen and our voices will be heard.
Secondly, we have created a postcard which anyone can print, physically sign and post to their MPs. This has been incredibly effective in previous campaigns and is another route in which your MP will hear about the petition and potential ban. We need them to notice and we need them to care, a letterbox overflowing with these colourful postcards from their constituents is hard to ignore! We will also be bringing a bunch of these postcards to events, asking people to sign and then posting them directly to their MPs. The postcard is also available for download, so anyone can print, sign and post it themselves. If you'd like to purchase a pack of professionally printed postcards and support us during this campaign, they can be found in our online shop.
The third route is Twitter. MPs are more active on Twitter than any other social media platform, as such we are creating a table on our website that lets you tweet your MP with a pre-written message and gif – with only the click of a button. The message will ask them to support the ban of shark fin imports and join the debate of petition 300535. We'll be sure to tell you the second this is live!
The fourth route to getting your MPs attention is motivational videos. We’re asking our friends in conservation and supporters to create videos asking people to email their MPs, and to MPs specifically, asking them to support the ban and be there for the debate.
There’s still more! We're compiling ‘fact files’ about potentially supportive MPs, chosen using the map on the petition site highlighting number of signatures in particular areas, and whether the MP has previously spoken out about the shark trade. These ‘fact files’ will be posted on social media, providing people with the knowledge to confidently message said MP and request their support.
Lastly, we've got new art and graphics to decorate your social media with. Let people know we’re still Finspiring Change and will continue to fight for sharks!
Behind the scenes
We’re working closely with animal law and legislation experts who have a wealth of experience in Parliament debating similar topics. We're composing strategies, compiling commonly asked questions, counter-arguments and gathering reports on all previous UK governmental documentation regarding shark trade, debates and EDMs. Deeper research into existing data, policies and legislation that may support the ban is being conducted, alongside analysis of previous debates. A lengthy but vital endeavour!
We’re writing a policy proposal on banning shark fin imports and sending it to all MPs asking for their support, documenting their response and policy position.
We’re increasing our efforts to back the Stop Finning EU initiative. This initiative aims to ban the import and export of shark fins across the EU. Using the momentum created from the Finspire Change campaign we are pressuring the EU states to follow suit and protect sharks. If you are from the EU and haven't signed, please do so here!
This has been a fantastic campaign so far and we couldn’t have done it without your support. We still have quite the road ahead of us but we will continue to push for sharks and for the ocean. This is a battle that can be won and together we can achieve something great.
At Shark Guardian we encourage collaboration and consider the fight to protect sharks truly a team effort. If anyone, individual or organisation, would like to support our efforts we’d gladly welcome you on board the Finspire Change campaign. Drop us a DM on social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you for your continued support. We couldn’t have done it without you – MPs we’re coming for you!