Vote for your favourite National Fish

4th February 2016

Fish twitcher Jack Perks has written a guest post on the National Fish Vote he is running to select the UK’s favourite fish

male stickleback Jack Perks

I’ve often been asked what is my favourite fish, particularly since being dubbed ‘the fish twitcher’ for my liking to find and watch fish. Well it changes from day to day to be honest but Grayling are high up with their lady like dorsal fin. Sticklebacks have been a species I look at fondly, thinking of days catching them and putting them into ice cream tubs to watch. Basking sharks have long fascinated me, also the sheer size of them and the fact that they are regular visitors to British shorelines.

The vote came about really as England has a national tree, the English Oak and a national flower, the Rose, and then last year we had the British Bird Vote which ultimately the robin won so it got me thinking why not fish!

The European Eel, photographed by Jack Perks

On a more conservation based note fish are, by their very nature, out of our view point for most of the time. We don’t see them as often as we might insects or birds which means they can take a bit of a back seat in our minds. The vote was an ideal way of pushing freshwater and seafish to the public’s attention and hopefully igniting an interest in them.

Fish face many problems and, as previously mentioned because we don’t see them as much, can go unnoticed and forgotten. Water abstraction means river levels drop which is of particular concern to chalk streams, which are an almost uniquely British habitat under threat. Over fishing with commercial vessels can mean stocks of cod, seabass and salmon can reach unsustainable lows. Habitat loss is a factor with research showing that 80% of wildlife ponds are either poor or very poor health and we have lost nearly half a million ponds in the last century, a crucial habitat for fish like crucians, tench, sticklebacks and eels.

Grayling, photographed by Jack Perks

While the vote holds a keen interest for groups such as anglers or fish keepers it is open to anyone to vote and there are various ways you can look at it….

Which species would benefit from being titled the ‘UK National Fish’? The rare Vendace for example is declining and only found in a few glacial lakes in Scotland and the Lake District. The Long Snouted Seahorse is increasingly under pressure from habitat loss. You could go simply for which is your personal favourite fish, whether you like it for its taste or enjoy it for its natural beauty.

If you want to go more technical than that, maybe look at which species fits the bill as British and is found all over the isles. Some species like carp for example were introduced (albeit 600 years ago) and others, like blue sharks and black bream, are only around our coastline for the summer.

Voting is open now!

Round 1 runs 23rd Jan – 26th March –  to choose the top ten from the 40 species.

Round 2 runs 26th March – May (exact date tbc) – to pick the national fish from the top ten.

 National fish vote button

Make your case

If you’d like to get even more involved why not make a ‘fish plea’ film under a minute long just putting across which species you think should top the vote and why, and we’ll upload it to the YouTube channel.

For more information: