Sanctuary joins campaign to end overfishing

The National Seal Sanctuary is marking the 13th annual "World Oceans Day" on Wednesday, the 8th of June 2005, by launching a major new campaign to safeguard dwindling fish stocks. And the Sanctuary is appealing to schoolchildren to help get its campaign message across.

Sanctuary visitors will be encouraged to sign a petition urging EU Fisheries Ministers to allocate sensible fishing quotas that will enable severely depleted fish stocks to recover.

Visitors will also be urged to police their local stores and fish-and-chip shops to make sure the fish on sale comes from only sustainable sources.

Atlantic cod, halibut and salmon and European hake are just a few of the popular food fishes decimated by fishing in the last few decades.

The region´s schoolchildren are being urged to paint their own emotive overfishing pictures and send them to the Sanctuary to appear in a special "Last Chance To Sea" Gallery set up as part of the campaign.

"Of all the many threats facing the world´s oceans, the problem of overfishing is without doubt the most serious," said the Sanctuary´s Curator Dr Glenn Boyle

"Recent reports reveal that stocks of many of the world´s most important food fishes have been reduced by 90 percent since the onset of industrialised fisheries in the 1950s," he added.

"The evidence of our impact on fish stocks is clear and if we don´t do something about this soon, fishing industries world-wide face total collapse and whole ocean ecosystems will change completely, with unknown, potentially irreversible consequences?"

The Sanctuary will be unveiling a special information panel later this month, spelling out the plight of fish stocks and urging visitors to support the campaign.

"We will also be providing special cards advising people which seafoods they should avoid and which they can eat with a clear conscience," said Glenn.

The children who send in the best "overfishing" paintings will be invited to hang their own framed pictures in the Last Chance To Sea Gallery.

World Oceans Day was created 13 years ago by the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and has grown steadily year on year.

Its theme this year is "Discover the Ocean in Your Backyard," and the object is to make people aware of their dependence on the seas, no matter where they live.

"The announcement of our campaign ties in perfectly with the opening of our new Cornish Coast Experience rock pool. Both are designed to inform and educate visitors about the challenges facing marine organisms - from rock pools to oceans. So we decided to make the announcement to coincide with this important worldwide annual celebration," said Glenn.

The overfishing campaign is the latest project undertaken by the Sanctuary in partnership with the Sea Life network´s own SOS environmental programme.

SOS has already successfully lobbied the European Parliament to improve safeguards for vital loggerhead turtle nest sites in the Mediterranean, to outlaw the grisly "shark-finning" industry in EU waters, and to speed the introduction of dolphin-friendly fishing nets.

Any children inspired to create their own overfishing they simple portraits of some of the threatened fish species, or elaborate scenes of trawlers and factory ships on the high seas...should send their work to:- SOS Stop Overfishing, National Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Helston, Cornwall, TR12 6UG.

Press Release date: 8th June 2005