A Shark Campaign
Commentary by nine-year-old Isabel Dow, Sea Shepherd’s youngest Board of Advisors member
Hi Captain Paul,
Last week I went shopping with mum and dad at Springfield Fair shopping centre in Queensland, and they had blacktip shark for sale on display. I was upset and did not know they were allowed to do that. Mum and dad told me not to say anything until I did some research on it. I came home and checked out that blacktip sharks are on the nearly threatened list. So the next day, Thursday, I went back with my camera and took photos and asked to speak to the manager. I told him I was a Joey Ambassador for Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital and worked for Sea Shepherd and he said that he was very proud of me. I then asked him why he is selling a nearly threatened species of shark in his store. He then looked at my dad and dad said it has nothing to do with him, it is Isabel’s concern and to address all his answers to Isabel (me).
The manager got a complaints form and said all inquiries about supply had to go to head office and I said fine, lets ring them right now. We tried but they were closed because of the time difference. He told me it was not a store thing it was all ordered from head office, so not their fault. I think he lied.
I rang the head office the next day and they said that they did not know that blacktip shark was a nearly threatened species and they would write to their supplier and get back to me in a few days. I posted all of this on Facebook with the number to ring Coles and their web address. A few people said they rang Coles and even went and checked them out. On Saturday, I made dad take me around all the Coles stores at the big centers and they didn’t have any sharks for sale at all. All the other Coles and Woolworths around here just had prawns and hoki, basa and salmon for sale. So all weekend no Coles or Woolworths had any shark for sale, and I am going to keep an eye on this one store. Pam Cherry just wrote to me and said they were selling them in Nerang on the Gold Coast. It is quite sad that another store has them for sale too.
All of Friday and Saturday I was researching blacktip sharks and where and how they live - everyone sent me so much information that my brain started to hurt. Sea Shepherd director Kim McCoy wrote to me and I even joined Shark Angels. I think there should be a sticker on each shop stating: I will not sell threaten or endangered animals.
I sent Coles a letter too, and I am sending it to you too so you can read what I wrote to them. I asked them to please get back to me in seven days or else I will have to think of someway to get more people to know what they are doing and how they do “not love our animals” or “care that they are nearly killing an entire species.” But I was nice about it because you cannot be rude, or else they will not listen to you.
Tell me Captain Paul what else I can do to stop these beautiful sharks from being killed. Thomas Sergent sent me a nice story they I sent to you written by the man who wrote Jaws. All the people that go diving say that blacktip sharks are lovely and divers’ bestest friends. If you have a look at adoptashark.com and their kidzone, it is really great! The page teaches us kids about the animals. Sea Shepherd should do this for all their kids. Just an idea. It will make it fun for the kids to have a look and understand, because not all kids can read really well.
Thank you so much Captain Paul.
Shark high fives,
Isabel wrote a letter to Coles and this was their response:
Thank you for contacting us regarding our fish offer and sustainability issues. We appreciate your concerns for the environment and the implications of sourcing seafood. To help our customers make an informed choice when they shop with us, we provide clear labeling on our fish products using Australian Standard Fish Names.
Our Quality and Merchandise teams are working closely with the World Wild Life Fund to assess our sourcing practices, to ensure we make continued progress towards best practice in fish sustainability.
Coles is also open to working with government and regulators on an industry approach so that Australians can continue to enjoy a sustainable and quality supply of fresh fish. We pride ourselves on offering our customers choice and will continue to adjust our range, based on consumer demand.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback. We look forward to your future custom at Coles.
Coles Customer Care
Note on Coles’ response from Captain Paul Watson:
In other words Coles appreciates Isabel's concerns but does not intend to do anything about them because they have a "sustainable label." The word sustainable was invented at the 1992 meeting of the United Nations Environmental Conference in Brazil. It quickly became a catchphrase for "business as usual" but this time you can buy with a clear conscience.
Sharks are in trouble. There are more Bengal tigers on the endangered species list than Great White Sharks so it is hardly surprising that Cole's does not regard the blacktip shark as endangered.
Even the word endangered means nothing really when you see the Icelanders and Japanese killing endangered Fin whales or the fact that supermarkets are still selling endangered Northern Atlantic cod or Patagonian toothfish.
I certainly do applaud Isabel for doing this investigation. Younger people today are not as gullible as previous generations and they don't accept anything as truth just because an adult says it is the truth.
Isabel is a brave little wildlife warrior and we should encourage her to continue her investigations and her campaign to protect endangered sharks.
-- Paul Watson