Friday, February 13, 2015

United Kingdom 2014 - Sustainable Fish

ISSUE DATE: 22 January 2014
STAMP DESIGN: Kate Stephens
PRINTER: International Security Printers
STAMP SIZE: 37mm x 35mm
PERFORATIONS: 37mm x 35mm
PHOSPHOR: All over

Beautifully painted by David Miller, the Mint Stamps feature ten sustainable fish species: Herring, Red Gurnard, Dab, Pouting and Cornish Sardine and five threatened species: Common Skate, Spiny Dogfish, Wolffish, Sturgeon and Conger Eel. The stamps also feature the name and status of each species.

Sustainable species.

POUTING. This small, fast-growing relative of the cod likes to lurk on seaweedswathed reefs and around shipwrecks, and it is sometimes accidentally caught in bottom trawls targeting larger fish. Chefs say the pouting’s firm flesh 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 swim south; the fishermen then followed the herring 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 RAPID. Dab Rapid growth and early mating habits protect dabs against overfishing. Though flavoursome, these delicate flatfish were 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 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 finger-like fins across the sea floor, stealthily taking prey such as unwary crabs, fish and worms. It has also done well in today’s tough seas, its communities expanding north as waters warm up and flourishing where larger fish have suffered from overfishing.

Threatened species.
COMMON SKATE. Unfortunately the 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. 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 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 spawning grounds.

SPINY DOGFISH. A small shark that grows over a metre long, the 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.

Stamp images thanks to Royal Mail