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Special stamps highlight threat to UK fisheries

Sustainable fish stamp issue launched on World Environment Day

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To mark World Environment Day, we are today launching our new sustainable fish stamp issue. These are the first Royal Mail stamps ever to champion a consumer message around an environmental issue - that of sustainable fishing in British waters.

The 10-stamp set highlights the beauty of marine fish, as well as providing guidance and encouragement to consumers on how to conserve UK fisheries.

Many familiar fish are severely threatened due to a variety of factors including overfishing. The stamp issue raises awareness of the threat and also provides a sustainable alternative.


Five of the species illustrated are fish that are threatened in UK waters; common skate; spiny dogfish (sometimes called rock salmon); wolffish; sturgeon and conger eel, while five are species from sustainable populations which provide viable alternatives for fisheries and consumers: herring; red gurnard; dab; pouting and cornish sardine.

The plight of fisheries has caused increasing public concern in recent years, with some organisations offering advice to consumers on which seafood to purchase and supermarket chains actively informing their customers about making informed choices. There have also been a number of TV programmes highlighting the issue.


We commissioned research to understand the attitudes to and gauge the knowledge of sustainable fishing amongst the British public. Our survey revealed that:

  • While 99% of people surveyed had heard of the term ‘sustainable fishing’, more than half (53%) felt they knew little or nothing about it
  • 84% of people said that there was no information available about the sustainability of the species when buying or ordering fish
  • 66% of those asked said they would buy/order more fish if they were assured that it was fished or farmed in a sustainable way
  • 60% of those asked said information surrounding the issue was most likely to be gleaned from TV documentaries or news articles on TV.

Issue of concern

Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at University of York, acted as consultant for Royal Mail on the stamp issue. He says: ‘Marine protected areas that are off limits to fishing could recover endangered species like those on the stamps, as well as providing a boost to the fishing industry through recovered stocks. Only one thousandth of 1% of UK seas are fully protected from fishing at present. To bring back endangered fish species, we need a huge increase in the coverage of such protected areas.’

Royal Mail spokesperson, Andrew Hammond added; ‘With the majority of the world’s fish stocks currently fully-exploited or over-exploited this is a key issue of concern. We hope this stamp issue goes some way to helping people make informed choices about sustainability and contribute to the discussion about the conservation of UK fish stocks.’

The stamps are available to buy now from, by phone on 08457 641 641 and in 10,000 Post Offices throughout the UK.