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Portsmouth City Council have launched an exciting project in partnership with The Final Straw Foundation as part of their Big Fish Sculptures series. In April 2021 a metal fish sculpture was placed at Somerstown Adventure Playground in the hopes of bringing children’s attention to the alarming rate of plastic pollution, and how they can make a difference.

The sculpture, which is made entirely from scrap metal, was designed by the charity to encourage users to place recyclable items within it. The design features open-sided gills for a startling display of how much single-use products are used, and despite its impressive 4 metres long, 1 metre wide and 2 metres tall frame, the children will see how quickly it fills up. All the waste deposited is periodically emptied by the staff at the playground and reused in art projects or recycled again.

The sculpture also serves as a visual representation of the impact of plastics on marine wildlife. Marine fish are ingesting plastic across all the world’s oceans, with recent studies showing up to two-thirds of species sampled had ingested plastic*.

The fish is located at Portsmouth’s Somerstown Adventure Playground, the site which is a haven for children to instigate free play, discover wildlife, make friends, and explore their artistic and critical thinking skills. That’s why Final Straw Foundation, chose this location to home their larger than life metal fish sculpture.

St Thomas Ward City Cllr Ian Holder said: “Portsmouth is fortunate to have six adventure playgrounds in the City providing a variety of play opportunities for our children to enjoy.

“Somerstown Adventure Playground is a diverse and incredibly welcoming playground where children feel at home and safe. Supported by qualified staff, children have the opportunity to stretch their imagination through informal learning and it is evident the children gain so much from the interaction they receive here.

“The fish is certainly a wonderful addition to the already creative structures here for our children in the City”.

Engaging children with the complex nature of plastic pollution has always been at the heart of the project. In the summer children at the playground will be selecting a name for the fish, taking an active role in filling and emptying the fish and coming up with ideas to utilise the waste . The overall hope is that children will begin to make more informed and conscious decisions about reducing theirs and their family’s reliance on single-use plastics.  The fish is just one of 3 linked to the foundation, with scope of increasing the shoal, and in turn its message, all over the UK.

On Thursday 3 June an opening ceremony at the playground took place. The event was well attended by Cllr Suzy Horton, Cllr Ian Holder, Cllr Kimberly Barrett, Cllr Darren Sanders, Cllr Dave Ashmore, and Cllr Rob Wood. The councillors took time to learn more about the sculpture, as well as meet the children, staff and the Final Straw Foundation team who have been heavily involved in the project.

Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Green Recovery at Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Kimberly Barrett, said: “This impressive sculpture sends home the message that plastic waste is altogether too high, and that smarter, more sustainable choices need to be made.

“This initiative is yet another positive environmentally-focused step for the City. As the fish fills up it will show just how passionate the next generation are about keeping the city’s spaces clean and tidy.”

The project builds on the successes of other recycling and waste efforts introduced in Portsmouth, including the food waste trial and the Great British Spring Clean. Portsmouth City Council are also investing in their climate change response, both by providing resource and supporting significant financial investment into schemes that will reduce carbon emissions and make the city a cleaner, greener and safer place to live. Anyone interested in receiving news on the council’s plans to tackle climate change can sign up to receive email updates by going to portsmouth.gov.uk/climateaction

The six Adventure Playgrounds in Portsmouth are open during term time and school holidays; more information can be found on the PYC website www.pycportsmouth.co.uk/

To find out more about the Final Straw Foundation visit https://finalstrawfoundation.org/big-fish-sculptures/

Notes to editors

*Based on research studies across 555 marine fish species worldwide. Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Nov. 26, 2019