Royal Mail launches new set of stamps for World Environment Day

Organised by the United Nations, 5th June is World Environment Day encouraging global awareness and action for the environment.

To coincide with the most important day in the calendar for doing something positive for the environment, the is focusing on the plight of a number of fishing species under threat which are commonly found in UK waters.  These sustainable and endangered species are illustrated with the issue of a presentation pack set to be released on 5th June.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, over 70% of the world's fish stocks are either fully exploited or depleted due to overfishing. Indeed marine ecologists think that overfishing is the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems meaning that well-used phrased there are 'plenty more fish in the sea' doesn't always hold true.

What's more overfishing of a particular species does not just damage the population of that fish alone. It can also have implications further up the food chain.

Thought to be the most populous fish in the world, found extensively throughout British waters, Herring is a vital prey species for marine ecosystems - sea birds, dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals as well as most predatory fish including cod, bass and mackerel. Therefore overfishing of Herring has a detrimental effect further up the food chain.

Having become a restaurant favourite dish in recent years in part due to its popularity amongst celebrity chefs, Red Gurnard has been classified as a 'data limited stock' with scientific advice to reduce catches accordingly. Red Gurnard is native to the temperate eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea as well as the British Isles and has seen its rating slip from 2 to 3 due to advice to reduce catches by 20%.

Dab is thought to be one of the most abundant fish species in the North Sea and has a pivotal role in the marine ecosystem whilst also becoming an increasingly important commercial species in part due to the declining numbers of cod and haddock. Celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver have also highlighted the virtues of this edible flatfish.

Most commonly found in the south and south west of the British Isles, Pouting has a newly acquired reputation as a table fish and is a responsible choice for UK  consumers because it is not a 'target species'. Considered as a more sustainable alternative to premium white fish such as cod and haddock, Pouting lives offshore most of the time but comes inshore to reproduce.

Formerly somewhat of a forgotten species, sales of the Cornish Sardine have been soaring in recent years but remain a very sustainable fish due to the fact that they are readily available for the majority of the year off the Cornish waters. As a cheap and nutritious species, Cornish Sardines are protected by EU law to stop foreign imposters passing themselves off as a Westcountry produce.

As an increasingly endangered species in UK shallow seas and further afield in European waters, the Common Skate belies its name. Indeed retaining and landing Common Skate is now prohibited in EU waters. This white flat fish is mostly found off northwest Scotland and is subject of a Biodiversity Action Plan which aims to stabilize the population of this species.

A highly migratory shark species, Spiny Dogfish has a widely dispersed population spanning way beyond British shores. Capable of living to 70 years of age with a low reproductive capacity and very low rate of population increase, Spiny Dogfish are extremely vulnerable to overfishing and also fall under the endangered category.

It is believed that Wolffish have declined by 95% in our shores since the 19th century due to overfishing. Modern commercial fishing methods, whereby fishing nets and dredges are dragged along the ocean floor, are thought to be the cause of decimated numbers of Wolffish which are a bottom dwelling species which lives and feeds exclusively on the seabed.

Part of one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, over 85% of Sturgeon species are apparently at risk of extinction. This is in part due to the increased demand for caviar as well as the threat of overfishing, poaching, water pollution and damning of rivers. Sensitive to environmental conditions, Sturgeon is one of the most valuable of all harvested fish.

Found in UK waters and northern European coastlines, Conger Eels are perceived as a highly rated catch amongst sea anglers capable of growing to up to 3m in length. With a very low resilience to fishing and capable of spawning only once, there is increasing evidence that stocks of European Conger Eel are in decline which explains why they are one of the least sustainable fish to eat and complete the list of endangered fish.

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