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Yellow Fish Campaign


Yellow Fish 2004 was supported by


6th July 2004: nine children and their mothers joined us from HEED - Home Educators of East Dorset - for a morning of drain stencilling in Coy Pond Road, followed by a picnic lunch in the gardens.  HEED educate their children at home rather than sending them to school www.he-ed.org.uk.

CBBC's Newsround Online has published a Yellow Fish article by India (10), a HEED home learner.  Read it at ...


The Yellow Fish experience

So you're thinking of carrying out a Yellow Fish project in your area?  

From our own experience we've written up

What's it all about?

It's about stream, river and bathing water quality...

We stencil drains in the street because that's where a large proportion of urban pollution is flushed into our local streams and rivers, and on to our beaches.

Did you know?  The drains in the street outside your door - and all the drains in the Bourne stream's 12km2 catchment - carry rainwater straight to the stream, no stopping, no treatment.  It's obvious from looking at many of these drains that some people are in the habit of using them to dispose of paint, concrete, old engine oil, and probably worse, perhaps toxic substances.  Even by washing your car on your drive or in the road, soap suds are washed into the stream.  All these actions impact on local water quality, and can harm the wildlife that lives in and around the stream.

But before we can act responsibly we need to be aware of that fact, and of the damaging effect our everyday activities can have on the local environment.  The Yellow Fish campaign aims to help do that.

Yellow Fish drain stencilling was first introduced in Canada in 1991 and has since become adopted by hundreds of local governments, agencies and environmental groups in the USA, Australia and recently in Scotland and Korea.

These are just a few examples of the many initiatives going on in the developed world, where it has become increasingly obvious that it is no longer just big industry that is to blame for the majority of water pollution incidents - it's us at home and at work!

We're not saying that industry is blameless obviously, but it is now strictly regulated, and more aware of its impacts on air, soil and water.  The actions of environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also ensure that companies such as Esso, for instance, take a greater care and behave more responsibly.

Now it's our turn - the householder and the small business owner.  

We have the permission of Poole and Bournemouth Highways departments to stencil drains along our first Yellow Fish route, which starts at Alderney and more-or-less follows the stream to Bournemouth Town Hall.

How it's done ...

We practiced - thanks to Sembcorp Bournemouth Water for allowing their premises to be used; here are some of the pictures taken at the same time as we carried out our risk assessment:

We worked in groups of 8 or 10, some to stencil, some to door-drop information leaflets, and others to supervise.  Wearing old clothing and high visibility jackets we set up road signs and cones around the drain (above) and the area is swept clear of leaves and other litter (below).

Using protective headgear and gloves (above), we spray paint through a stencil fixed to the bottom of an old banana box (to avoid over-spraying) - keeping ourselves to the pavement as much as possible.

Whilst the road signs and cones are moved on to the next drain (left), there's a moment to admire our handiwork (above).

Repeat - often - and at the same time deliver fishy fliers door-to-door to let people know what the Yellow Fish symbol stands for.


Some oil pollution facts

  • Storm water drains in the Bourne valley area lead direct to the Bourne stream - pouring oil, paint, solvents and other chemicals down these drains is the same as pouring them straight into the stream!

  • Oil is poisonous to fish and wildlife and smothers plants;

  • Oil is the cause of more than one quarter of all pollution incidents, with over 5,000 such incidents in the UK each year. Most commonly these are caused by diesel, central heating oil, waste oil and petrol;

  • The oil from one car engine could form a film over a small lake;

  • Just half a litre of oil can stop a small sewage treatment works from operating.

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