Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Marine conservation - how you can help...

From clearing up beach litter and cooking up sustainable fish recipes to nominating a coastal area for protection, part two of our interview with the Marine Conservation Society looks at the different ways to help out.

Helpful Holidays knows how important the UK's beaches and marine habitats are to holidaymakers and residents alike so we have made MCS our chosen charity for 2011.

MCS is currently campaigning for Marine Protected Areas off the UK coasts, including 12 sites in the South West such as St Mawes and Babbacombe Bay. It has created a website,, where you can add your vote of support for the recommended sites and help safeguard the future of a top holiday spot or recommend a marine area that you think needs extra protection. If you’ve seen activities like trawling and dredging off the coast, this campaign is a way to lobby for these activities to be restricted, enabling the sea bed and fish stocks to recover.

MCS said: "It's very important that the public get on board. If people staying at cottages through Helpful Holidays have a marine area they love and want to put it forward for protection, they can have their voice heard on our website. We also encourage the public to take part in our wildlife surveys too. Have fun spotting turtles, jellyfish and basking sharks while you're on holiday! MCS uses the data to build up a picture of marine wildlife activity around UK coasts."

Channel 4's The Big Fish Fight series has raised issues at the heart of MCS's operations. The charity said: "A high profile series on Channel 4 and the involvement of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in particular in taking this Fish Fight to the masses, helps our cause no end.

"We've been campaigning against the practice of discarding – throwing perfectly good fish back in the sea dead – for a number of years. Hugh is very passionate about what he’s discovered and that helps what we are trying to do enormously. Alongside our downloadable, at-a-glance sustainable seafood guide, people have taken heed of the TV shows and we know that sales of fish often discarded have gone up in supermarkets, which is great news."

To keep up the good work, the charity suggests we all try something new at the fish counter; by opting for less popular fish like coley, pollock and whiting, we can relieve the pressure on falling fish stocks like cod, tuna and salmon.

Another easy way to help – avoid using plastic bags, pick up litter you see and take your own litter home with you. We all know litter gets dropped and looks unsightly but do we realise the fatal consequences it can have for our wildlife?

MCS said: "Litter has become a massive problem. Our Beachwatch event has taken place every year for 16 years, with up to 6,000 volunteers every year going out onto beaches, clearing litter and recording data. In that time, we have seen a 121% increase in the amount of plastic rubbish we’ve found. That's really all down to our increased use of plastics and the fact we are an increasingly throw-away society. Small changes can make a big difference."

Funds from Helpful Holidays will go towards key projects. You can make a donation to MCS when you book a holiday through Helpful Holidays. You can also donate direct to MCS, become a member and help spread the word about the good work of this charity by following them on Twitter or by liking the MCS page on Facebook.