Sign a scale to ‘shoal’ support for saving our seas

Tuesday 26th July 2011

Simon King OBE, President of The Wildlife Trusts, signs a scaleSimon King OBE and Joan Edwards cpt Tom Marshall

To mark the start of National Marine Week (Sat 30 Jul – Sun 14 Aug), The Wildlife Trusts are launching the ‘Petition Fish’ campaign, in a bid to demonstrate public support for Marine Protected Areas.

Next year should see the UK’s first network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). To meet international obligations the Government must designate and establish an ecologically coherent network of MPAs around the UK by the end of 2012.

It is vital that we have enough of these areas, they are large enough and well protected. So, from 30 July, The Wildlife Trusts will be urging everyone to sign a scale online (www.wildlifetrusts.org/petitionfish) or text ‘FISH’ with your name and postcode to 60777.

As an island nation, we have a strong connection to the sea and the variety of life it sustains.  Scientists have recently confirmed that our seas are under increasing stress from human impacts such as fishing, pollution and climate change.  Experience from around the world shows that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), where damaging activities are restricted, can help fragile marine ecosystems and wildlife to recover - and with this fish stocks.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ head of Living Seas, said:

“We have one year to create a strong network of protected areas for marine wildlife in the UK.  One year to demonstrate the importance of healthy, well-protected seas – which can continue to support the demands we place on them for food, resources and climate regulation.  Starting this National Marine Week, we want everyone to celebrate our seas, understand more about the threats facing native marine life, and get involved in protecting it.”

Simon King OBE, President of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Our seas are rich in surprising and alien species – fearsome wolf fish, drifting manes of sea kelp studded with blue-rayed limpets which gleam sapphire, technicolour sea slugs in scarlets and pinks.  National Marine Week is the perfect chance to discover this fascinating world with The Wildlife Trusts.

“Our marine life is facing so many threats, from destruction of habitat to overfishing. We must ensure there are safe havens below the waves, marine protected areas where populations of species can recover.  By supporting Petition Fish you are playing your part in creating a network of MPAs, which could ultimately ensure the future health of our seas and sea life.

“We want members of the public to ‘sign a scale’ and remind the Government of its commitment to create a well managed network of MPAs by 2012. Unfortunately, heavy pressure is being applied by other interest groups who are opposing MPA designation.  Public support is vital to persuade the Government to use its power and help the UK’s seas become some of the most productive and wildlife-rich on earth.”

How to get involved and show support
• Sign a scale online (www.wildlifetrusts.org/petitionfish)
• Text ‘FISH’ with your name and postcode to 60777
• Look out for Petition Fish at Wildlife Trusts events (including rockpool rambles, porpoise-spotting, and basking shark watches) and sign a scale.

Notes for editors:

The Wildlife Trusts’ Petition Fish campaign www.wildlifetrusts.org/petitionfish

Petition Fish are The Wildlife Trusts’ way of gathering signatures from the public in support of MPAs.  Signatures will be gathered online and through texts.  There will be opportunities to sign scales at The Wildlife Trusts’ events.  These scales will be attached to large fish which will eventually be taken en masse to Westminster to demonstrate the weight of public support for MPAs.

The fish featuring in the campaign are triggerfish (usually found in warmer Mediterranean waters but more are now found in UK as a result of warming seas), plaice (a long-lived bottom-dwelling species, subject to high fishing pressure, John Dory (warm water species, usually found in the south-west) seahorse (two species of seahorse found in UK waters - the spiny and the short-snouted.  Both found from the Shetland Isles, west coast of the UK (and all around Ireland) and along the south coast of England. Sightings have been reported on the east coast and they have been recorded in the North Sea.)

In 2007 The Wildlife Trusts launched a campaign to raise awareness for the need of legislation to protect the UK’s seas - only 0.001% was fully protected from damaging activities.  A survey in the same year found that people across the UK thought that more than a quarter - 27% - of our sea area is already safe within Marine Reserves.  The poll was conducted by ICM. 1,296 people were interviewed.

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney.  All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch.  Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.