Big Fish Sculptures

The big metal fish raising awareness of the impact of plastic pollution!

In the UK alone it is estimated that we use up to 13 BILLION single-use plastic bottles every year, and only just over half of these are recycled*. We see so many plastic bottles discarded on roadsides, in towns and in the countryside. We pick them up on every single beach clean. They are everywhere, making their way into our precious ecosystems and endangering wildlife, as well as looking unsightly.

Only around 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated. The vast majority—79%—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning that at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink.** One way to increase recycling rates is through an effective Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). In 2018, the UK Government made a commitment to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England to try to help tackle the plastic pollution crisis. Frustratingly, in March 2021, the government announced that this would be delayed until 2024 at the earliest. These schemes have been introduced in around 40 other countries with huge success. A German scheme for plastic, glass and metal drink containers has seen recycling rates in excess of 97%. 

However, although a DRS would help recycling rates, and plastic bottles and cans can currently be collected and taken to be recycled, we don’t believe that recycling is the answer. Plastic bottles can’t be recycled indefinitely – in fact, currently, most plastics are only recycled 2-3 times, if they are recycled at all. We firmly believe that using reusable items such as washable, metal water bottles, cutlery and reusable coffee cups will still always be the better option for our environment and wildlife.


In June 2019 we welcomed ‘Nelson’, the Final Fat Fish to our ranks! Nelson, or Nellie as she is affectionately called, is a huge metal fish that we can transport around the area, visiting festivals, parks and towns with an aim to raise awareness of the sheer volume of disposable plastic bottles we use. The idea is simple – the public fills Nellie up with their used plastic bottles and aluminium cans, illustrating just how many of these disposable items we use and the huge volume of waste we create. Nellie is a simple and striking way to illustrate the number of single-use bottles we consume and brings home the message that we are filling our oceans and sea life with plastic.

Nellie the Final Fat Fish
Nellie the Final Fat Fish – a large sculpture for recycling plastic bottles and aluminium cans – by Bournemouth Pier

Nellie the Final Fat Fish aims to highlight this as a beautiful metal sculpture bin. It is a whopping 6 metres long and made entirely from scrap metal by the fabulous team at Sailboat Trailers in Emsworth – wheel arches, old boat trailers, the frames from old warehouse trolleys and old chicken wire.

Nellie is portable and we move her around to different areas and events on the South Coast. If you would like Nellie to come to an event that you are organising or that is happening near you (in the Solent area), please feel free to drop us an email and we will see if we can make it happen!

A huge thanks go out to the Portsmouth City Council High Street Community Clean-Up Fund and the FatFace Foundation for helping to fund this project.

The BCP Waste Warrior Fish, Wanda

In April 2021, another big fish sculpture joined the shoal! The new ‘Waste Warrior Fish’, nicknamed ‘Wanda’, can be found in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, and will be working hard to highlight the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

Wanda, the new Waste Warrior Fish Sculpture in the BCP area

Where can I see the new Waste Warrior fish?
Like Nellie, the new Waste Warrior fish is mobile and will move around Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole spreading the Reuse, Refill & Reduce message. The fish will first visit Sandbanks in April 2021, then move to Bournemouth in May and Boscombe in July.

How can I help?
Always carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Many beaches have drinking water taps and you can find places to refill your water bottle by downloading the free Refill app.

If I put my plastic bottles in a recycling bin surely there’s not a problem?
Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end there. Depending on where you live, a lot of single-use plastic doesn’t get recycled – even when it’s put in a recycling bin. A lot of plastic waste has been shipped abroad and even waste managed in the UK often gets incinerated, adding to the Climate Crisis in releasing CO2. Plastic is also made from fossil fuels – prolonging an industry which we urgently need to transition away from. For more information, City to Sea have some great information here: The problem with plastic

A coffee shop refused to serve me in my re-usable coffee cup because of Covid. Is it safe? 
Yes. It’s absolutely safe to get your reusable cup filled in a coffee shop. Download our easy to follow guide here which shows exactly how vendors can safely fill your cup without touching it, and check out the handy video below from City to Sea.

How was the new Waste Warrior fish for Bournemouth Christchurch Poole paid for?
The new fish was funded by donations from local residents, including Plastic Free Bournemouth, plus fantastic support from local businesses LUSH and Saffery Champness LLP accountants.


‘Tiddler’ is a slightly smaller fish that has been installed in Portsmouth. It is in the Somerstown Activity Playground and has been specially designed to be easy for children to access. We are running regular workshops with the children that attend the centre, reinforcing the messaging behind the fish with fun activities to help educate them about the impact of plastic pollution and choosing reusables over single-use items.

Somerstown Activity Playground Fish Sculpture Tiddler
Somerstown Activity Playground Fish Sculpture ‘Tiddler’

The Lancing Fish

In March 2022, a new fish has joined the shoal in Lancing, commissioned by Lancing Parish Council. This new fish (nickname TBC!) will live permanently in Lancing. It was commissioned after successful visits by the original big fish, Nellie, which spurred the Parish Council to organise their own fish. We are thrilled that the shoal is spreading further along the coast and it’s great to see them all being used and appreciated wherever they reside!

The Lancing Big Fish

* House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Plastic bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide. First Report of Session 2017–19