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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Royal Mail Fish Stamps!

The Royal Mail has released a set of postage stamps today to commemorate ten fish species that can be found in the waters around the coast of the UK!
Beautifully painted by David Miller, the Mint Stamp set features five sustainable fish species, the Herring, Red Gurnard, Dab, Pouting and Cornish Sardine as well as five threatened species, the Common Skate, Spiny Dogfish, Wolffish, Sturgeon and Conger Eel. The stamps feature the name and status of each species.

The five sustainable species are as follows:

Pouting -  This small, fast-growing relative of the Cod likes to lurk on seaweed swathed reefs and around shipwrecks, and it is sometimes accidentally caught in bottom trawls targeting larger fish. Chefs say the firm flesh of the Pouting should be enjoyed when very fresh.

Herring - The life cycle of the Herring once influenced how we lived. Shoals would appear in spring off the coast of Scotland and move south, and the Herring fishermen then followed the Herring shoals and their nomadic wives and children followed the fleet, processing the catch onshore. Herring are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), proven in clinical studies to be beneficial to health.

Dab - The rapid growth rate and early mating habits of the Dab protect them from overfishing. Though flavoursome, these delicate Flatfish were much under-appreciated in the past, but today you will find them more and more on the supermarket fish counters and on restaurant menus.

Cornish Sardine - An ancient favourite, the Cornish Sardine has been fished for off the south west of England for a thousand years, and annual catches once topped 10,000 tonnes. Fewer were caught by the beginning of last century as tastes changed, but happily they are now back in fashion as a health food.

Red Gurnard - The wily Gurnard crawls on its finger-like fins across the sea floor, stealthily taking prey such as unwary crabs, smaller fish and worms. It has also done well in today’s tough seas, its population expanding north as waters warm up and flourishing where larger fish species have suffered from overfishing.
The five threatened species are:

Common Skate - Unfortunately the mighty Common Skate no longer lives up to its name – it is now very uncommon indeed in the seas around Britain. Once you would have found it everywhere, and it was caught in its thousands. But this huge fish is also a sensitive one, ill-suited to mass exploitation. Today it hides in terrain too rough for bottom trawling.

Wolffish - Consumers have been misled by false claims that the fearsome-looking Wolffish is a sustainable alternative to Cod. In fact it is now much rarer than Cod, after the extension of bottom trawling fishing methods across British seabeds caused a surge in Wolffish catches.

Conger Eel - Habitually haunting shipwrecks, Conger Eels used to be far more abundant and widespread, growing to over three metres and weighing in at a robust 150kg thanks to their copious diet of shellfish and fish. But modern commercial fishing has slashed their numbers.

Sturgeon - Hunted for thousands of years, the prehistoric-looking Sturgeon with its bony scales was an awesome sight, five metres long and often weighing half a tonne. It would seasonally travel from ocean to rivers, but has been a rarity since the Middle Ages when rivers were dammed to power mills, blocking the Sturgeon’s route to it's spawning grounds.

Spiny Dogfish - A small shark that grows to over a metre long, the Spiny Dogfish made for a popular meal in the early 20th century – grilled Dogfish fillets and chips. The population has plunged due to overfishing, which has prompted sea anglers to campaign for the Dogfish’s protection.
Also available is a First Day Cover featuring an evocative illustration of fish amidst the waves, this striking cover has all ten Special Stamps affixed and contains a filler card written by marine conservation biologist Professor Callum Roberts, which offers an overview of the UK fishing industry and individual summaries of the featured species. A Fishguard postmark has been chosen as the name reflects both fish and sustainability.

Special Stamps Technical Specifications 
Design - Kate Stephens
Stamp format/size - Landscape 37mm x 35mm
Printer - International Security Printers
Print process - Lithography
Perforation - 14.5 x 14.5
Phosphor - All over
Gum - PVA
Number per sheet - 25/50
Released on 5 June - Please visit the Royal Mail website HERE to purchase.

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