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TARGET: £75,000


At present, only 7% of the Ocean enjoys any form of legal protection. Of this, approximately 2% is protected in a meaningful way. The UN has recently agreed a target of protecting 30% of the Ocean by 2030. However, much support is needed to meet this target.  


There are many organisations in the Ocean conservation space. However, most either focus on a limited set of issues or are geographically limited. Marinas Guardian aims to support these organisations, bring innovative newcomers to the fight and to share best practice. Marinas Guardian is different. 

Their team of marine scientists, conservationists, and advocates are the driving force behind their on-the-ground efforts. They work tirelessly to identify and establish new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), conduct research and monitoring to understand the impact of our conservation efforts, and engage with local communities to promote sustainable use of ocean resources.

Marine biologist Liberty Denman, also a Founding member of Marinas Guardian explains:

"We are far from alone in our plight to protect the Ocean, but that's exactly our strength. We're about bringing people, organisations, sectors and countries together to achieve our common goals. Working collaboratively is something that will always be at the core of what we do to foster innovation and progression.


The UN has tasked us with protecting 30% of the Ocean by 2030, a campaign coined 30x30. Currently, 7% of the world’s ocean has been designated with only about 2.8% of that effectively monitored and protected, which leaves us at best a further need for 23% of the Ocean protected in the next 6.5 years. We don't have long so now's the time to start acting!".





As announced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) earlier this year, Marinas Guardian will be leading a programme to develop a complete set of global standards governing the identification and remediation of sunken vessels. The IUCN estimates that over 8,500 vessels are at risk of leaking oil, and other highly toxic chemicals into the sea. 

Image by Wouter Naert


Marinas Guardian has partnered with the Major Projects Foundation on a multi- year programme to identify, assess and remediate approximately 60 sunken vessels in the Pacific. The numerous naval conflicts during World War 2 left a legacy of sunken vessels, unexploded ordnance, leaking oil and toxic chemicals. 


Marinas Guardian believe that a proper understanding of the Ocean is a critical component of any 21st century education. Marinas Guardian team of teachers and marine scientists will develop a set of National Curriculum compliant lessons about the Ocean for rollout in schools across the world. The aim is to start with schools in Dubai, but to roll out to 25 countries in 3 years.

Sea Bay


The Spurdog is a small shark found in UK waters that has returned from the brink, only to see the protections that saved it taken away. Marinas Guardian are looking to produce a documentary that sheds light on this small shark and hopefully helps bring back the protection it so badly needs.

What is a Spurdog?

The Spurdog, also known as the spiny dogfish, is a small species of shark found around UK waters. Part of its name comes from the spur at the front of its dorsal fin. The dog part comes from its tendency to hunt in dog-like packs! At just 1.42m, this UK shark species proves good things can come in small packages. The Spurdog has recently been relisted as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of endangered species.


What is the challenge?


The Spurdog is under the same increasing pressures from fishing and habitat degradation as most other fish in UK waters. However, the Spurdog has certain characteristics that make it much more vulnerable to this pressure.

Firstly, the Spurdog is an aggregating species. This means they tend to stick together. This makes overall populations extremely vulnerable to bycatch as well as designated fishing pressure. Secondly, female Spurdogs only reach sexual maturity at 15 years of age and have an average gestation period of up to 22 months, after which, they may only produce a small litter of pups.

In short, swimming in large groups and taking a long time to reproduce, renders Spurdog extremely vulnerable. From an evolutionary perspective, they would seem very much to be the underdog.

This shark was fished to extreme population decline until they were classified as endangered on the IUCN red list before protection measures were finally implemented. Just as these measures begin to facilitate population recovery, they have been lifted. Is this truly the most sustainable solution? We want to find out.


Why do we Care?


As stewards of the planet, there is an overall sense of responsibility to mitigate human impact and protect species that are struggling, but our individual reason to care will vary.

As a shark lover, conservationist, diver and/or concerned citizen it may well be the desire to preserve ecosystem balance, health and resilience of the marine food webs that these sharks are part of maintaining.


For an angler, Spurdogs are an exciting catch. Unsustainable fishing of them will significantly reduce the chances of landing this species.

Economists might note the financial benefit sustainable fisheries and recreational angling have in the UK, all of which are threatened by the loss of key species such as the Spurdog.

Having already been hit hard by Brexit, UK fishers will depend on sustainable fisheries to ensure their industry remains viable long term. Rendering a native species extinct would not represent an encouraging direction of travel.

There may just be other reasons too, and we're excited to uncover all the different stories and connections people have with the ocean and this species as we campaign for fishery measures with sustainability at the core.


The Plan


The documentary: 'Fighting for the Underdog'

Spurdog were fished to the point of being classified as an endangered species.
We successfully implemented protection measures, which finally began to show impact. So why have we decided to change that? This 40 minute documentary will explore this.


The aim of the documentary is to increase awareness around shark fisheries, particularly the Spurdog and engage a variety of stakeholders in caring about the species. To catalyse political change.

When it is completed, we will host a launch event and local screenings around the UK. The documentary will be disseminated further dissemination through other partners. Our aim is to catalyse political change.




Shark Trust Save Our Seas Angling Trust

Wildlife Trust DEFRA

Small scale commercial fishers Local communities


What is needed

Marinas Guardian is seeking support for this project in the following areas:

  • Project funding to a total of £75,000.

  • Any in-kind support: use of a boat, technical equipment etc.

  • Support in promoting and showing the final documentary.

Listen to the Podcast: Out of Our Bubble

Join Liberty Denman, Founding Member of Marinas Guardian and marine biologist, as she explores all things Marine related in her Podcast "Out of our bubble".


Liberty is a marine biologist and science communicator with a first-class degree from the University of Plymouth. She has spent the last 6 years working in various roles including research, consultancy, science communication and campaigns. Her belief that the solutions lie in collaboration across different sectors and borders has facilitated work with brands such as EcoCiv, The Biome Project, GhostNetWork, the Ocean Conservation Trust and the Angling Trust. Following this, Liberty was invited to work with Reboot The Future and Unilever on their COP27 campaign. Liberty also set up her own science communication and consultancy business, LibertyDenmanDives. A key element of this work has been in production, using documentaries as a method to communicate research and topical marine content. Her particular focus on elasmobranchs, overfishing and policy has taken her to all corners of the world working in Bimini, South Africa, Portugal and Malta as well as locally in the UK. 


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