Over the last three years, the M&S Forever Fish campaign has supported WWF’s work to address sustainable marine management in the Celtic Seas as well as marine conservation work across the globe. Through a 90-second film narrated by one of our ambassadors, actress Miranda Richardson, we’re celebrating what’s been achieved and thanking the UK public for their support.
The Forever Fish campaign gave valuable support to the LIFE+ PISCES project, which ran from 2009 to 2012, and the launch of the subsequent LIFE+ Celtic Seas Partnership project (2012 – 2017). Both projects aim to help bring about sustainable management of the Celtic Seas allowing the exceptional biodiversity and natural habitats to recover.
The Celtic Seas are home to a spectacular array of wildlife. Beneath the waves dolphins, porpoises, whales, sharks and seals share the same waters as fragile and slow-growing maerl beds, cold-water corals and horse mussel reefs. They are also home to many species that we depend on for food – such as mackerel, plaice, crabs and lobsters – while a wide variety of internationally important seabirds make their homes and feed along the coasts.
People from across Europe are dependent upon the Celtic Seas for their livelihoods and well-being. The region has long been a busy shipping area with important fisheries, aquaculture and an active and varied tourist industry.
But the Celtic Seas, along with the rest of the world’s oceans are under severe strain. Some of the biggest threats right now are over-exploitation, pollution and climate change.
We believe that if we’re going to tackle these threats properly we are all going to have to work together. And that is why we’ve been running the PISCES and the Celtic Seas Partnership projects, with the support of Forever Fish.
The PISCES project was pioneering in terms of successful stakeholder engagement, which is crucial for achieving sustainable seas. The key to PISCES success was its ability to empower all sea-users to create their own guidelines on how to sustainably manage the different activities that take place in the Celtic Sea. PISCES was the first to translate marine policy into practical guidelines for multiple sectors across a multi-national area. These guidelines are now seen as a blueprint in other marine areas, particularly the crucial role of stakeholders in the process.
PISCES received high praise from a wide range of sea-users, academics, government representatives and the European Commission. Stakeholders involved felt confident taking forward elements and recommendations from the PISCES guide and felt it was useful to both policy makers and sea-users. Government representatives felt that they have a greater understanding of the views of stakeholders because of PISCES. And those involved also believed that PISCES had improved communication between sea-users in the Celtic Sea and made it easier for them to work together.
The success of PISCES helped to secure a further four years of funding for another LIFE+ project: the Celtic Seas Partnership, and support from Forever Fish ensured it got off to a great start. This Celtic Seas Partnership builds on the foundations established during PISCES and is expanding the partnership approach to a larger geographical area and involving many more stakeholders from Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Isle of Man, France and the Republic of Ireland. The project is bringing together sea-users, industry, governments and the scientific community within the Celtic Seas area to find ways of working together that will achieve healthy and sustainable seas.
The Celtic Seas Partnership is benefitting from the trust and understanding already established with stakeholders through PISCES and is exploring a range of practical tools and approaches to improve how the Celtic Seas are governed and managed. PISCES has shown that engaging with sea-users and improving communications between all sectors, including government, is of vital importance to securing a future for our seas where people and nature can thrive.
Not only is the Celtic Seas Partnership highly important for France, Ireland and the UK – the knowledge and best practice that the project generates and the approaches used can be applied to other seas around the world.
What do you think of Laura’s blog? Leave us a comment.