Friday, 8 January 2016

UK National Fish Vote

Why have a national fish?

Other countries have national fish with Japan having the Koi carp and South Africa has the Galjoen. The UK already has a national bird with the robin topping the list last year (over 200,000 people voted) We have a plethora of amazing species to be found around our coastline and in freshwater habitats but often get overlooked by other species. This vote is a celebration of all things fish and raising awareness for species and issues that face them.

Who can vote?

Anyone! its free and all you need to do its put your email down as verification (all information is kept private and not shared with anyone) Although it has a major interest to anglers theres no reason why anyone else with a interest in fish can't vote from scuba divers, conservationists, aquarists or fish and chip enthusiasts. 

As well as the main vote theres some additional questions which are optional to get some info on current subjects like what are the biggest threats to fish, should burbot be reintroduced and should a trust be set up for freshwater fish conservation?

Male minnow in breeding colours

When is the voting?

Voting starts on the 23rd of January and will continue until the 27th February when the top ten will be announced and from those another month of voting will go on until the poll ends on the 26th March and the results will be added up. You won't need to vote again if you have already voted for the first stage.

23rd Jan - 26th March - From the 40 species the top ten will be decided
26th March - May (TBC exact date) - From the top ten the national fish will be decided

Look out for mentions in magazines such as Diver, BBC Wildlife, Angling Times, Anglers Mail and Planet Sea Fishing.

What to think about when voting

For me theres three ways you can look at when deciding which species to vote for

Which species would benefit from being the national fish? - Some fish included on the list have no angling value but are still important additions to british fauna from the huge Basking Shark that visits much of the west coast in the summer to the Vendace the rarest freshwater fish in the UK. Others for example are susceptible to over fishing like sea bass and salmon so being voted national fish brings them out into the attention of the public.

Favourite fish - Whether you enjoy a bit of haddock and chips or like catching gudgeon down the local canal you'll likely have a favourite fish which will influence your vote.

Typically British fish - Think about which species you would want to represent the UK and what that species reflects for example sticklebacks are small and the males even have the breeding colours red, white and blue like the union jack. Some species can be found all over the UK like brown trout found in streams in cornwall to lochs in shetland and everywhere in between.

Make a 1 minute 'fish plea' film

If you would like to share your thoughts and opinions on why a single species should win you can film yourself championing a species in video. All it needs to be is under a minute with your name and why this species should be crowned national fish. It can be filmed from a phone or compact camera as long as you can hear and see whats being said just keep it clean. see our email below to send it to and we'll add it to our youtube channel.

Part of the project is to get as many people involved as possible so if your a organisation or trust who like to show your support you can either get in touch and we'll add you as a general supporter or if theres a particularly species you'd like to back we can add you as a fish champion and add links to your trust on the website so far groups like the shark trust, sustainable eel group, institute of fisheries management and wildscreen have shown support.

The List

Compiled by a group of experts from top anglers to fishery scientists this list reflects a wide range of fish species to choose from. We have over 400 species of fish from sea and freshwater in the UK so would be impractical to name all of them so have gone for the most popular, iconic and embody the sprit of the UK. In theory it could end up with two national fish with the overall winner say Rudd and the highest sea fish say Plaice. However if the fish that wins overall can enter both fresh and salt water then it would just be the one national fish like salmon, sea bass or european eel.

Freshwater                                                    Sea
Tench                                                           Basking Shark
Roach                                                           Cod
Rudd                                                             Lesser spotted dogfish
Barbel                                                           Flounder
Chub                                                             Sea bass
Bullhead                                                       Long-Snouted Seahorse
Grayling                                                       Haddock
Atlantic Salmon                                           Conger eel
Brown Trout                                                Common skate
European Eel                                               Mackerel
Vendace                                                       Pollock
Carp                                                             Thick lipped mullet
Three spined stickleback                             Black bream
Perch                                                            Ballan wrasse
Pike                                                              Tompot Blenny
Minnow                                                       Garfish
Gudgeon                                                      Plaice
Crucian                                                        John Dory
Common Bream                                          Thornback ray
Dace                                                             Blue shark

Why choose those species?

I've excluded some recent arrivals and non natives though carp are technically classed as a non native they have been in the UK for nearly 600 years and most coarse fish have been introduced at one point or another after the last ice age meaning if you want to be precise the only truly native fish are the sea species and anadromous species like salmon and trout.

The idea was to have a broad selection of species from tiny bullheads and blennies to pike and basking sharks. Each species has its own merits and all are deserving of our attention, respect and help.

To vote follow this link

Jack diving with pike 
About Jack

Jack is a professional wildlife photographer and filmmaker specialising in all things underwater particularly freshwater fish.  He under went a project last year to film every species of freshwater fish in Britain (so far 43 out of the 54) He regularly works for TV and magazines both for angling and wildlife shows such as Springwatch, Countryfile & Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing.

Email us at :
Twitter: @Riverfishuk
Facebook: UK National Fish Vote


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