When my friend Anna-Lisa told me about her adventurous plans to carry out a fundraising bike ride with her fiance over the bank holiday period I was so impressed by her energy and committment I wanted to share it with you.
Anyone who gives up a potentially lazy long weekend to raise awareness about the devastating effect were all having on our marine life has to be given a voice on GGG.
I asked Anna-Lisa who works for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to tell us about her trip the issues that are affecting the British coastline today and what we can all do about it
1. Hi Anna-Lisa first of all can you tell us what the Wildlife Trusts Operation Seahorse Campaign is?
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust launched the Operation Seahorse campaign in conjunction with the Wildlife Trusts national campaign Save our Seas. Both campaigns aim to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our seas and its diverse marine life. The UKs seas are extraordinarily rich in wildlife home to more than 44000 animal and plant species around 50% of the UKs biodiversity.
However our seas are poorly protected compared to terrestrial habitats and are under increasing pressure as offshore activities proliferate and climate change alters marine ecosystems. Every level of marine life is under threat from the charismatic bottlenose dolphin harbour porpoise and basking shark to the critically endangered leatherback turtle. Even cod our most popular fish is now commercially extinct in the North Sea.
Through the Operation Seahorse and the Save our Seas campaigns the Wildlife Trust movement (and other members of Wildlife & Countryside Link) are petitioning and lobbying the UK government to ensure that the Marine Bill delivers robust nature conservation laws including designating sites as Highly Protected Marine Reserves (sanctuaries for marine life from where NO natural resources can be extracted i.e. gravel) At the moment there is only one UK site Lundy which has been designated as a Highly Protected Marine Reserve and is fully protected from all fishing dredging and other damaging use. However at just 3.3km2 this sanctuary only represents less than 0.001% of the UKs seas.
2. What are the issues around the Marine Bill?
Through previous campaigning conducted by the Wildlife Trusts (and other members of Wildlife & Countryside Link) the UK Government issued a White Paper on the Marine Bill on March 15th 2007. The White Paper revealed for the first time the Governments detailed plans for reforming the way that our seas are managed. The Wildlife Trust felt that overall the White Paper was very encouraging as it includes many important measures that they have been pushing for but there is still a long way to go before we have strong effective new laws in place.
Although a White Paper was issued the Marine Bill has suffered severe delays & Gordon Brown recently (July 07) failed to include it in his list of priority Bills for 2007-8. We need to lobby the government to ensure that the Marine Bill comes to Parliament during the 2007-8 session if we dont show the government NOW how important it is to designate sites as Highly Protected Marine Reserves then they will fail to commit or deliver the Marine Act in the time frame that is needed to protect our dying seas.
3. What motivated you to do the bike ride?
As an employee of landlocked Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust I was already fully aware about the Wildlife Trusts Save our Seas campaign and had signed the Marine Reserves Petition. However whilst looking on the Wildlife Trusts main website I read about Hampshire and the IOW Wildlife Trusts Operation Seahorse campaign and decided to support the cause by purchasing one of their Operation Seahorse T-shirts.
Whilst communicating with the Operation Seahorse Team I discovered that they needed urgent funding in order to undertake underwater biological surveying thus as a keen cyclist and wildlife enthusiast who wanted to visit the Isle of Wight I thought that a sponsored bike ride would be a great way of raising funds and also a great way to promote the campaign.
In order to raise funds I will be undertaking an 80 mile bike ride with my fiancÃ©e who lives on the Sussex coast and is also a keen cyclist and wildlife enthusiast. During the three day cycle tour we will be wearing Wildlife Trust Operation Seahorse and Save our Seas T-Shirts promoting the campaign and encouraging people to sign the Marine Reserves Petition.
4. What will be your route and when does it begin and end?
The plan is that on the morning of Saturday 23rd August we will cycle from Rustington in West Sussex (where my fiancÃ©e lives) to Portsmouth in Hampshire (this journey is approximately 34 miles). At Portsmouth we will catch the Wightlink Ferry to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Saturday evening we will set up camp and then on Sunday we will be doing the Ryde and Bembridge 15 miles coastal circular route on the island. On Monday we will catch the ferry back to Portsmouth and cycle back to Rustington. Phew! It might not sound much to some of the more experienced cyclists however it will be rather exhausting for us.
5. How can GGG readers support you on your bike ride?
If after reading this article any GGG readers are enthused to help protect our UK seas then I would be really grateful if they could support my bike ride by sponsoring me for a few pound my fundraising page is:
In addition to sponsoring me I urge GGG readers to take positive action towards protecting the UKs seas by:
Signing the Wildlife Trusts Marine Reserves Petition calling for the Bill to introduce areas that are fully protected from all damaging activities.
Email friends and family asking them to sign up too or print out the paper version of the petition to collect further signatures.
Join the Wildlife Trusts Save our Seas team a free online campaign group.
Write to your local MP and explain to them why youre supporting the campaign and what you want the Marine Bill to achieve for wildlife. Here are some hints and tips on lobbying MPs.
6. What will the sponsorship funds be used for?
All money raised through the sponsored bike ride will provide the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust with essential funds that will help them to be able to undertake urgent survey work. The survey work will provide them with facts about what needs protecting under the sea and where. Unfortunately biological surveying underwater is much more difficult and expensive than surveying on land.