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Marine Appeal - Breathing life into our dying seas

Aug 30,2001 Leon Roskilly

Every year, thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoises die needlessly in UK waters.

These waters are increasingly under threat from pollution, oil spillage, excessive fishing and incidental bycatch, where dolphins and harbour porpoises are caught accidentally in fishing nets.

To help save marine wildlife and address a host of marine conservation problems The Wildlife Trusts have launched a Marine Appeal asking for people to support them through donations to raise £250,000.

Up to 50 per cent of the UK's diverse wildlife is found in the seas and in order to ensure that this can be appreciated in the future. The Wildlife Trusts undertake a variety of marine conservation action, including: coastal reserve management; surveying and monitoring key species; lobbying for marine legislation; working with fisheries and providing marine advice and information.

Even with the existing conservation work the death toll of some of our amazing and majestic marine wildlife continues to rise.

For example, in seasonal fishing of sea bass in the English Channel, which lasts six weeks, the dolphin death toll is estimated to be several thousand. Our coastline has suffered from more oil slicks than any other in Europe and in the Celtic sea gill nets for hake kill an estimated 2,200 harbour porpoises a year (which accounts for more than six per cent of the population).

The Marine Appeal will help to fund essential research to save our marine wildlife. Joan Edwards, marine conservation manager, said: "Porpoises can go close to nets in safety provided they know they are there. We are developing a number of devices and conducting research and surveys aimed at directly helping dolphins and porpoises survive fishing nets. Funding is desperately short, which is why we have launched a Marine Appeal asking for support."

Supporting the Marine Appeal are The Wildlife Trusts President, Prof. David Bellamy, and round the world yachtswomen, Ellen MacArthur.

Prof. David Bellamy said: "The sea has been a constant source of wonderment for me, as for many others. Now the waters around our shores are suffering terribly. Please, please help by giving your support to this appeal."

Ellen MacArthur said: "Having now spent six months of the last 12 at sea I am very lucky to have seen many new faces of nature¹s splendour. This made me realise how much we have there for all of us, how much we have still to discover, and collectively how much we have to look after."

How you can help
The Wildlife Trusts need to raise at least £250,000 by Autumn 2001 to continue its vital work protecting the marine environment. Any support, however big or small, is important and valued. People wishing to help should send all donations to The Wildlife Trusts, Marine Appeal, Freepost MID20441, Newark NG24 4 BR.


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