Yellow Fish Campaign

We are excited to be launching the Yellow Fish Campaign here in Falmouth, a project which we hope will bring the community together with one shared goal – to protect our local streams, rivers, and sea.

What is the Yellow Fish Campaign?

  • The Yellow FIsh Campaign is a project originally piloted by the Environment Agency. It is a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of allowing only rainwater to run down into surface water drains.
  • The project consists of education, awareness raising, and positive action to join together local communities to support one goal – reducing pollution in waterways to provide a healthy natural environment for people and wildlife.

What happens during the campaign?

  • During the Yellow Fish Campaign you may see posters or leaflets with the Yellow Fish Logo. These give information about the campaign and remind people why we need to keep harmful chemicals from entering the surface water drains in our local area.
  • Drains in the area will be marked with the Yellow Fish Logo – to remind people that these drains lead straight to the rivers and sea, and that what goes doen them doest go through any filtering or treatment process. We also hope to give talks in schools to educate children and young people on water pollution.

What does the Yellow Fish mean?

  • The Yellow Fish symbol marks road and surface water drains. These drains are designed to carry only rainwater, which usually goes to the nearest watercourse (in this case the Bickland Stream and its tributaries which flows into Falmouth Bay at Swanpool).

Why does it matter?

  • Road and surface water drains are designed to carry only rainwater, usually straight to the nearest watercourse. Allowing anything other than rainwater down these drains is like pouring it directly into our rivers, streams and other watercourses. This could be pollution from trading and industrial estates, manufacturing, industrial and waste premises, construction sites and housing developments. But it can also be things homeowners may not think can cause pollution – for example water from washing your car or wheelie bin, waste paint and concrete washings. The effects of the pollution can be acute (short term impact) or chronic (long term impact) and can range from the creation of an eyesore to the killing of fish and wildlife.

What sort of pollutants get put into drains and what harm do they do?

  • Oils and related substances like cooking oils and fats can spread out across the surface of a watercourse. This is because they don’t mix with water. In small amounts oil forms a thin film which can cause a rainbow effect called iridescence. Larger amounts can create a matt effect on the water surface and pools of oil that may weather and solidify. The effects can range from the creation of an eyesore to the killing of fish and wildlife and could affect pets if they go into the water.
  • Substances such as chemicals, wash waters and waste water misconnections can appear as ‘grey water’, which will spread through a whole watercourse. Grey water can also cause sewage fungus to grow at the pipes where drains enter a watercourse and in the watercourse coating plants and stones. These substances can cause low oxygen in the water and raised ammonia levels. This can cause living things to ‘suffocate’ and can also be directly toxic to animals, fish and plants.
  • Silt and sediment runoff from farmland and construction sites can cause pollution which can damage and kill aquatic life by smothering and suffocating and can cause flooding by blocking culverts and channels.

Does the Bickland Stream flow through or into sensitive or protected areas?

  • Swanpool Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
  • Swanpool Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Swanpool Bathing Water Area (BW)
  • Swanpool Beach to Maenporth Local Wildlife Site (LWS)
  • Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
  • Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay Special Protection Area (SPA)

What is the difference between a surface water drain and a foul drain? How can I tell?

  • Generally foul drains or sewers are sealed, with access provided through manhole covers in the road or pavements. Surface water drains have open access points covered with grills, usually along the side of the road or below gutter down-pipes on buildings.


Who is organising the Campaign?

  • The Falmouth Green Corridor Forum, a collaboration between local community groups, Falmouth Town Council and Cornwall Council, supported by the Environment Agency.

Who gave you permission to do this?

  • Cornwall Council Highways Dept.

What authority do you have to put paint on the roads?

  • Cornwall Council, Falmouth Town Council, the Environment Agency and South West Water have worked in partnership to authorise the project            

What paint are you using?

  • Stihl Eco marker spray

Is the paint hazardous if washed down the drain?

  • No. it is environmentally friendly and 100% biodegradable

Is the paint harmful or toxic to wildlife?

  • No. It is non-toxic odourless and manufactured from renewable materials

How long will the Yellow Fish symbol last?

  • Several weeks to a few months.

Further information about the disposal of liquids: