Wilder Solent

Wilder Solent

Milton Locks © Paul Gonella

Wilder Solent logo 1000x250

With miles of stunning coastline, a shallow strait, and easy access to the seas beyond, our two counties share a wonderful marine environment. As well as being vital to our health and wellbeing, our waters bring fun, employment, and inspiration to thousands of people each day, and are central to our region's identity.

Unfortunately our marine wildlife is struggling to cope with increasing pressure from human activity. Our coastal habitats are being damaged and many amazing species are in danger of disappearing altogether. Nature is at a tipping point, and if we want to stop further decline then we must act now.

The Wildlife Trusts are on a mission to make our world wilder, and Wilder Solent is exploring what this looks like for our region's waters. We're still working hard to protect the marine environment, from monitoring vulnerable species to campaigning for legal protections, but we need your help to tip the balance in nature's favour.

With our everyday actions having an enormous impact on the sea, we all have the power to make a difference if we work together. So why not join us in fighting for a Wilder Solent, and help build a bright future for our marine wildlife?

Looking for marine volunteering?

Take action at home or work

Our daily lives can have a surprisingly big effect on the marine environment. Luckily there are lots of easy ways to reduce your impact.

Pledge to clean green

Cleaning our homes helps to keep us healthy, but the products we use to do it are a cause of marine pollution. Chemicals can spread into groundwater through leaking waste pipes, while rubbish put down plumbing instead of in the bin can block sewers, causing untreated sewage to be discharged into the sea.

Ideas to try:

  • Switch standard household cleaning products, which often contain toxic ingredients like chlorine bleach and ammonia, for kinder alternatives. No brand is perfect, but popular choices like Method, Ecover, and Bio-D are still an improvement.
  • Swap standard plastic sponges and scourers, which gradually break down into microplastics and can't be recycled, for alternatives made from natural materials or upcycled cloth.
  • Dispose of household waste using rubbish and recycling bins, instead of flushing it down sinks and toilets. Southern Water provide guidance on 'unflushables' like cooking oil, wet wipes, and cotton buds.

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Pledge to serve seafood

Seafood can be a healthy and delicious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but some fishing methods have a negative impact on habitats and wildlife. Much of the seafood caught in our waters is also shipped abroad due to a lack of local demand.

Supporting suppliers who are using more sustainable fishing methods, or championing such produce, is a great way to tackle these issues. Many fisherman, shops, and restaurants in our area want to move in this direction, and local demand would help to make doing so economically viable.

We'll soon be launching a dedicated campaign to help you make more sustainable choices when it comes to seafood - stay updated by signing up to our monthly Secrets of the Solent e-newsletter. In the meantime, the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide is useful when shopping or eating out.

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Pledge to tackle plastic

Plastic litter in our marine environment has made the news a lot lately, and with good reason. Many plastic items still cannot be recycled, and after entering the sea often remain there for decades. Animals can eat or become tangled in larger pieces, while the full impact of microplastics remains unknown.

Ideas to try:

  • Buy loose fruit and vegetables instead of ones in plastic packaging, where possible. Cloth drawstring produce bags are now affordable, widely available, and accepted in most supermarkets.
  • Check to see if your local shop has deli counters, and if they allow you to bring your own containers. Many supermarkets will now put meat, fish, cheese and other products in clean tupperware that can be sealed.
  • Take a packed lunch instead of buying one in plastic packaging. This can be a cheaper and healthier option in addition to being kinder on the environment. Make your lunches in bulk and invest in a sturdy lunchbox to reduce hassle.

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Take action on the shore

There's nothing quite like being out on the coast, and a trip out is a great opportunity to care for our marine wildlife.

Pledge to pick up litter

Tackling our own single-use plastic habits is vital to reducing the rubbish on our coastlines, but there is already a lot of this long-lived material in our seas. So it's no surprise that beach cleaning has become hugely popular as an easy way to stop wildlife from eating or becoming tangled in plastic marine litter.

Ideas to try:

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Pledge to reduce disturbance

Exploring the coast is a brilliant way to learn about the marine environment, but some species and habitats are sensitive to our presence. Disturbing animals can cause them to become stressed and use up valuable energy, while altering their habitats can force them to find a new home.

Ideas to try:

  • Admire any animals you find from a distance, rather than handling them. Soft-bodied species like sea anemones are easily harmed by poking or squeezing, while rock-dwelling species like limpets can be damaged if you remove them.
  • Replace any rocks exactly as you find them. Many fascinating species hide underneath stones and boulders, but put everything back once you've had a look to allow these animals to continue living there.
  • Be mindful of our feathered friends on the shore, especially during the winter months. If birds are startled they use up the energy they need for migration - Bird Aware Solent offer great advice on how to avoid this.

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Pledge to watch for wildlife

When it comes to protecting wildlife, data is one of our most powerful tools. Our species monitoring has helped to secure Marine Conservation Zones, stop harmful development, and implement legal protections. Most of our data is collected by citizen scientists who come from all walks of life.

Ideas to try:

  • Report your marine mammal sightings to us. We collect data on whales, dolphins, and porpoises in our waters - remember to note down your location and take a photo or video if you can.
  • Report your seagrass bed sightings to us. We monitor the health of seagrass in our area, which provides habitat for many vulnerable species - if you see a bed in our waters tell us the location and approximate size.
  • Take part in other wildlife watching initiatives. There are many amazing organisations nationwide that are monitoring the populations of different species and need your help to do it.

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Take action on the water

Taking to the waves gives you the chance to see some of our more elusive species and help look after them at the same time.

Pledge to be an anchoring ace

Sailing is hugely popular across our region, and for many is a way to connect with our marine environment. But it's important to be careful with how and where you anchor, as dragging can damage the seabed and disturb the species living there. Seagrass beds, which are hugely valuable wildlife habitats and carbon sinks, are particularly sensitive. The Royal Yachting Association has great advice on how to anchor and moor responsibly.

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Pledge to be fish friendly

Angling is a favourite pastime for many local people, and can be a good chance to see marine species up close. However, if not done responsibly it can contribute to falling stocks and harm to animals, including ones not being fished for. With a few simple choices this sport can be enjoyed with minimal impact on our wildlife.

Ideas to try:

  • If you're digging for bait, check for any restrictions from local or harbour authorities as some areas are off-limits to protect important species. Remember to fill in any holes you make to reduce your impact on the habitat.
  • If you're releasing your catch, use gear and techniques that limit the damage when they're removed - check British Sea Fishing for advice. Keep a close eye on your kit to avoid it becoming 'ghost gear' that can entangle wildlife.
  • If you're keeping your catch, check the minimum landing sizes in our area. Removing juveniles before they've had a chance to breed can reduce the ability of a population to sustain itself.

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Pledge to be a spotless sailor

Our region is full of passionate sailors, many of whom appreciate the chance to get closer to nature. But sailing is not without its problems, as antifoul, sewage, fuel, and litter from boats can all be hugely harmful to the marine environment. The Green Blue has lots of guidance on tackling these issues so you enjoy being out at sea while also caring for our wildlife.

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Marine Champions on Wightlink Ferry © Emily Stroud

Marine Champions running a ferry safari © Emily Stroud

Share your story

If you're joining the fight for our marine wildlife, why not inspire others to do the same? You could share a graphic on social media using #WilderSolent, display a poster with the pledge you've taken, or simply tell a friend!

- Download our Facebook graphic

- Download our Instagram graphic

- Download our Twitter graphic

- Download our pledge poster

Stephen Morgan MP and HIWWT Chief Exec Debbie Tann doing a beach clean

Stephen Morgan MP and HIWWT Chief Exec Debbie Tann doing a beach clean

Bring your team

Want to take part as a business, group, or organisation? Not sure how a pledge would work for you? Interested in spreading the word in a different way? We can help you make a plan and put it into action - contact us for more information.

Cuttlefish mural in Portsmouth

© Paul Gonella

Explore our work

We want to see a wilder future for every part of the natural world, with improvement across both land and sea. There are lots of ways to get involved in this, from campaigning to sharing your thoughts.

Learn about Wilder

Our project Secrets of the Solent is celebrating the amazing people and wildlife that share our waters through art, seafood, volunteering opportunities, citizen science, and more.

Learn about the project

Stay in touch

We'd love to hear how you get on with your pledge, so do get in touch to let us know what you've been up to. If you'd like to hear from us in return, we have several different e-newsletters to help you stay up to date with all things wildlife.