Don't 'wing' it at Birdfair - shoal your support...

Thursday 18th August 2011

Simon King OBE and Joan Edwards with Petition Fish. Image by Tom MarshallSimon King OBE and Joan Edwards with Petition Fish. Image by Tom Marshall

Visitors to the 23rd British Birdwatching Fair are being urged to ‘sign a scale’ when they visit The Wildlife Trusts’ stand at Rutland this weekend.

Wildlife film-maker and President of The Wildlife Trusts Simon King OBE will make an appearance (marquee 3, stands 40-44), helping to host strandline safaris and encouraging everyone to support The Wildlife Trusts’ ‘Petition Fish’ campaign, in a bid to demonstrate public support for Marine Protected Areas.

The British Birdwatching Fair takes place on Friday 19 August – Sunday 21 August at the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre on the Egleton Nature Reserve, Rutland Water, 9am-5.30pm daily. It is jointly organised by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB and has something for everyone, with hundreds of stands offering the latest products from binoculars to books to bird food, clothing to country crafts, and much more.

Other reasons to visit The Wildlife Trusts’ stand include:
• Chances to win a black Kodak memory card waterproof high definition camcorder, with 16 to 9 widescreen recording - ideal for sporty types or people wanting to record their strandline safaris!
• Seeing spectacular marine wildlife which lives in UK waters and joining in on a ‘strandline safari’
• Plenty of stickers, postcards, magazines on offer plus small numbers of great books to buy – at special Birdfair prices
• How you can help The Wildlife Trusts achieve their vision for Living Seas

Tickets cost £10 for adults (16 or over) and children go free. After entry, all entertainment is free, including lectures, quizzes and games hosted by TV celebrities and workshops.

Ali Plummer, Living Seas Officer for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The UK seas are home to some of the most fantastic marine life in the world but unfortunately, at the moment, they have very little protection from damaging activities. We are campaigning to remind our Government of its commitment to provide Marine Protected Areas. They will help protect our marine species and habitats and help restore our seas to their potential. Do your bit to help protect them and join us at our stand."

People not able to make it to Birdfair this year can sign a scale online at or by texting ‘FISH’ with your name and postcode to 60777.

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. 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.

More information is available from Anna Guthrie, media & PR manager, on 07887 754659.

Notes for editors:
Full details of all the exhibitors attending and the varied programme of events are on the Birdfair website or available by contacting the British Birdwatching Fair office on 01572 771 079 or

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT)
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.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Petition Fish campaign
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.