21 July 2013

Sharks have got a brand new bag

Helen Lockhart

Several members of the Aquarium’s Green Team were the first proud recipients of the second Ocean Promise re-usable bag produced by Woolworths. The bag features a shark and a seventy-four fish and, like the Penguin/Turtle bag, urges consumers to make an ocean promise to help conserve marine life.

The Green Team members joined some of the Woolworths Good Business Journey (GBJ) Champs at a recent workshop held at the Aquarium. Like our Green Team, the GBJ Champs are the custodians of Woolworths’ sustainability drive and it is their responsibility to impart information to their colleagues and to the consumers visiting their stores, to encourage them to participate. During the workshop Helen Lockhart shared some of the initiatives undertaken by the Aquarium to create a more sustainable world and Hayley McLellan gave a presentation on the single-use plastic bag and the campaign Rethink the Bag. The Woolworths team then took over and shared inspiring information about their re-usable bag campaign which has raised funds for rhino, cheetah, wild dog, vulture and penguin conservation, and created jobs for at least 140 people. We also heard about some of their Good Business Journey achievements to date.

Not surprisingly much of the discussion after the presentations focused on the single-use plastic bag. The Champs were fired up and ready to start encouraging their consumers to purchase re-usable bags instead of plastic bags which was of course music to our ears! Did you know that Woolworths Head Office has banned plastic bag sales at its food store and canteen? Butterfly World just outside Klapmuts is also joining the campaign and other members of PAAZAB are also being encouraged to ban the bag. With great re-usable bags such as the Ocean Promise bags available, it just got easier!

The Ocean Promise bags are reusable, fully recyclable and made exclusively for Woolworths by Isikhwama, a community project right here in South Africa! They cost R29.95 each and are available in selected Woolworths stores nationwide. Ten Rand (R10) from the sale of shark/seventy-four bag will go towards marine conservation projects that are supported by the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Sharks in deep trouble

Hundreds of millions of sharks are slaughtered every year for their meat, fins, teeth, skin, oil and cartilage. It is predicted that many sharks could become extinct within 20 years if the current rate of exploitation continues. There is not a single shark fishery in the world that has been shown to be sustainable. Currently there is a global call to stop the sale of all shark products – the Two Oceans Aquarium supports this call. If sharks are to continue to exist as top ocean predators they need our protection.


In the 1920s seventy-four was the main catch in the offshore line fishery of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. In 1989 only 0.8% of the total catch was seventy-four and by 1998 the population had completely collapsed due to overfishing. Seventy-four are now protected and may not be caught. Seventy-four are on SASSI’s Red list (www.wwfsassi.co.za).

The name ‘seventy-four’ apparently refers to the lines and spots on the body which resemble the 74 gun ports along the sides of the old man-of-war sailing ships.

My Ocean Promise

By making a promise to change the way you live on land, you can have a positive impact on the home of penguins, turtles, sharks and seventy-four. Remember to make a promise that is simple and easy to keep. Maybe you’d like to start by choosing not to use plastic drinking straws, or using less plastic altogether? How about creating a team to help clean up waste in a nearby river or on the beach – waste that would otherwise land up in the sea? Email your promise to ipromise@penguinpromises.com. Go ahead – make a difference!

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