This is the letter we sent to Coles and Woolworths, as seen in episode 1 of Sarah Shark.
My name is Sarah Richmond. I’m studying marine biology at Griffith University and I’m currently hosting a series of films on shark species found around Australia called Sarah Shark. I was most distressed to find a great Australian business such as Coles/Woolworths selling Blacktip Shark, a species listed as near threatened with a declining population on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. I understand there may be a demand for flake in Australia, but there are other species of fish that are not threatened and would be a more sustainable option. Blacktip Sharks are an iconic species and we’d like to work with you to bring more sustainable seafood to the Australian public. A large body of research has shown top marine predators such as sharks can build up high levels of mercury in their bodies. The Food and Drug Administration in the US recommends people, especially women and children, not eat any type of shark because of the risk of mercury poisoning.
Throughout the year my series of films celebrate Australia’s sharks, which worldwide, are as much a part of Australian culture as the koala and platypus. As an Australian I take pride in our wildlife and healthy, abundant oceans. The films will also highlight the threats to sharks and the danger consuming shark meat poses to people. Although opinions on sharks vary, I think all Australians would agree that selling the meat of a threatened species is not the Aussie way. I would love to work with you towards a positive outcome for Blacktip Reef Sharks and your company providing safe, sustainable seafood. The ideal outcome for this engagement (and we note your emphasis on stakeholder engagement in terms of your corporate sustainability strategy) would be for us to highlight a success story – showing in our movies how Aussie retailers are doing the right thing and taking threatened species off your shelves.