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 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, snorkelling plus dolphin and basking shark watches) and sign a scale.
Did you know…
1. The UK’s 11,073-miles of coastline is host to an amazing array of flora and fauna.
2. More than 40,000 species, around 50% of the UK’s plants and animals, live in our seas.
3. Wherever you are in the UK, you’re never more than 70-miles from the sea.
4. Just 2% of the UK’s sea area has even a minimal level of protection for wildlife.
5. Less than 0.001% is fully protected from all damaging activities (Lundy Island, Skomer, Lamlash Bay, Arran).
6. In 2009, the EU Commission declared that 88% of monitored marine fish stocks were over-exploited.
7. Almost one quarter of UK mammal species are marine.
8. Two species of whale and dolphin have become extinct in UK waters in the last 200 years.
9. Around 40% of the world’s grey seals are found in UK waters.
10. Almost two thirds of Northern gannets are found in UK waters.