Pink sea fan, Paul Naylor

Our Species Champion gets face to fan with the pink sea fans

1 minute read

Brendon Queiroz

Brendon Queiroz, Public Affairs Officer

18 Dec 2023

Luke Pollard MP, Species Champion for the pink sea fan, recently learnt more about this wonderful and important species.

As part of the RSPB-led Parliamentary Species Champion Project, we host two Westminster species champions: Sally-Ann Hart MP for seagrass and Luke Pollard MP for the pink sea fan.

Our champions help to raise awareness of their selected species within parliament by advocating and pushing for better species protection and for wider UK biodiversity.

We organised for Luke to visit the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to observe pink sea fans up close, and to learn more from Marcus Williams, Curator at the Ocean Conservation Trust, who detailed the brilliant work that their team are doing to research, grow and protect the species.

Luke, Mark and Brendon Species Champ event

Marcus, Luke, and Brendon at the event

Credit: Brendon Queiroz

The pink sea fan is a slow growing, cold-water coral that can be found around the UK. Destructive fishing practices such as scallop dredging and bottom-towed gear can wreak havoc on pink sea fan populations and due to their slow recovery (research estimates that the sea fan grows at a rate of 1cm per year), even small disturbances can have huge lasting impacts.

Although pink sea fans aren’t responsible for carbon sequestration like seagrass or other blue carbon species, they’re still crucial to creating a healthy ocean.

By being present in marine habitats, pink sea fans add to the species richness and therefore, increase biodiversity.

Pink sea fan, Paul Naylor

Credit: Paul Naylor

They also provide habitats for marine species, including commercially important fish. By removing and damaging pink sea fans, we risk causing a knock-on effect on marine animals dependent on them.

Luke’s enthusiasm and interest in the species and the information that Marcus had to share is encouraging and we will continue to work closely with him to support his championing of pink sea fans in parliament.

This will include Luke asking parliamentary questions, raising awareness of the importance of the species and working with relevant members to preserve wider marine habitats and ecosystems.

Luke MP with pink sea fan

Credit: Brendon Queiroz

We have species champions across England, Wales and Scotland, with our Scotland team recently celebrating the 10th year of its Nature Champions programme.

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