Shark Fin Free Toolkit Sierra Club Activist Network 2012 Proposal

Shark Fin Free Toolkit Sierra Club Activist Network 2012 Proposal


1. What measurable outcome do you want to achieve in the world?

To protect shark populations and begin to restore the balance of our oceans by banning the unsustainable shark fin trade through grassroots activism.

2. Why? The practice of shark finning is the single gravest overfishing problem in the world’s oceans. High take levels not only threaten shark populations themselves, they create imbalance to and ultimately collapse of marine ecosystems.  Nearly one third of sharks are listed by the IUCN as threatened; a hundred shark species are listed as commercially exploited. Yet only three species of shark are protected under CITES.  Rising demand has yielded increased fishing.  The result is extirpation of local populations and poaching of protected areas such as Cocos Island, the Galapagos and Indonesia.  The reaction to this cataclysm by governing bodies remains lethargic; the enforcement of current regulations remains feeble.  The current trajectory of response virtually guarantees the extinction of multiple shark species. Only immediate measures that reduce the demand for shark fin can reverse this trend in time to ensure the genetic diversity and sufficient stock to restore healthy, sustainable populations. 

3. What activities or tactics will you do to make this happen? Develop a freely available toolkit that trains grassroots activists and provides a roadmap for two key activities: 1. Motivating and assisting campaigns for passing legislative local and regional bans; 2. Making available information, tools, and a network to combat the fin trade.

4. How will you engage new people and grow them into leadership positions? Drawing on its experience in fostering California’s AB 376 and a campaign already underway in Texas, Shark Stewards will host an international symposium and workshop to catalyze action in other jurisdictions. This symposium will host individual activists—both those already identified as possessing leadership capability, and others to be recruited through personal networking and social media sites, at meetings and film screenings, and at dive and ocean events world-wide. The workshop will train participants to form “fin teams” that take direct action that raises public awareness, initiates shark fin legislation, and further spreads the movement through social media and grassroots organizing. Shark Stewards will also continue to drive the movement via an on-line campaign that builds additional awareness, and provides the tool kit via free download.

5. How much do you anticipate spending and what would the grant funds be used for? Shark Stewards requests $9,000 dollars (of a $25,000 budget) to host a meeting of shark biologists, scientists and activists to develop the toolkit.  This meeting will first create a common strategy, and then develop the specific tactical tools and necessary supporting materials required to catalyze local, regional shark fin bans. Materials will initially be available in English and Chinese, and will include tactics such as how to negotiate the minefield that surrounds efforts that effectively ban a long-standing cultural tradition, the consumption of shark fin soup.

6. Are you applying for c3 (educational/administrative) or c4 (legislative/advocacy) funds? This proposal requests c3 funds.


Shark Stewards is uniquely qualified to design and assist campaigns to ban the practice of shark finning. From initiating a local ban (Tiburon, California, 2007), and then leading the effort to the successful California shark fin ban in 2011, the program leader is recognized internationally as the leading authority on this strategy and has been solicited for strategic and tactical direction by activists in jurisdictions such as Vancouver, Toronto, Singapore, Texas, and Florida.  More information is available at