Ocean Focus first anniversary
On 6th July 2012, we will be celebrating our first year as a marine conservation and education organisation. We would like to thank the many people who have supported us over this period; we have been fortunate to meet and work with some really wonderful people. We hope 2012 and beyond will be just as successful.
We would like to take a look back over the last year and share some of our early successes with you.
We launched our first campaign ‘Sharks on the EDGE’ during European Shark Week in October 2011. A major goal of the (still active) Sharks on the EDGE campaign is to raise awareness and dispel some of the myths surrounding sharks by engaging the public through education and by giving talks on the subject matter. During European Shark Week, we screened the film Sharkwater produced by marine conservationist Rob Stewart at three different venues across Oxfordshire and Berkshire, as we saw this as an ideal way to achieve this goal due to the film’s phenomenal success since its release in 2007. The film has won over 30 International awards and has done more for shark conservation than any legislation, treaty or action plan. It was Rob Stewart’s incredible journey of discovery into finding out why shark populations were being depleted all over the world that unearthed the lucrative market for shark-fins, and opened up the whole shark-finning debate. We also received Newspaper coverage from the Reading Post and Chronicle and later in the week we were invited to speak on BBC Radio Berkshire, where we managed to promote our campaign and discuss some of the issues affecting sharks. Overall, the week was a huge success and alongside the film screenings, we managed to gather over 100 signatures towards the ‘Make the Push’ Shark Alliance petition that aims to close the loopholes in the current EU legislation on shark finning.
In early 2012, we teamed up with 15 University of Reading students to complete a joint writing project. The project had two main aims; to complete pages for the Ocean Focus informational website and to engage with students directly by enabling them to express their passion for a subject matter of their choice and, in turn, publish their work. The students who took part in the writing initiative were completing various biological science degrees at the University of Reading including Zoology, Biology and Ecology disciplines. Students wrote homepages and factsheets covering a broad range of marine topics, from species and habitat conservation to fisheries management. The students were mainly in their second and final years and this writing initiative provided them with an important skill for their CV’s which is beneficial in the highly competitive industry of conservation. It was truly inspiring working with so many passionate, dedicated and ocean-loving individuals, and it is certainly something we would consider running again in the near future.
Finally, our most recent event was held in association with World Ocean’s Day (8th June). ‘Oceans on Canvas’ was our first community art event and took place on Sunday 10th June in Palmer Park, Reading, as part of the East Reading Festival. Children from the community painted their favourite marine life onto two distinct 2 x 2.5-metre ocean-themed murals illustrating aquatic habitats and their inhabitants. We also provided educational information about how species interact with each other and their importance in the ecosystem. Our main objectives for the event were to promote the oceans through art and to bring people together and learn some new skills while having fun. We managed to encourage people of all ages to join in and try something new, but we especially enjoyed engaging with the children and we were really pleased with the final results. The weather held out and by the end of the event over 100 children (plus a few adults!) had taken part in painting some colourful and vibrant sea animals onto the canvases. Please click here to view photos of the finished canvases.