A LAST-ditch attempt was made by the Hunt Saboteurs Association to disrupt the Angling Trust’s Cormorant Watch website.

The sabs were encouraging its supporters to record bogus sightings of cormorants, goosanders and mergansers on the website to derail the Trust’s goal of having accurate records of the fish-munching birds.

Luckily the Trust created a quality assurance protocol to avoid false reports so these won’t be included in the final figures. The Cormorant Watch website has now closed.

But things turned ugly on the Hunt Saboteurs Association social media pages when members said anglers should be shot rather than cormorants.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, said: “It is disappointing that these animal rights extremists have chosen to target angling with their hateful action.

“Online comments on forums associated with this movement have even called for anglers to be shot, which is appalling.

“We have never called for predatory birds to be wiped out but we do want to see sensible, proportionate management to control their numbers at sustainable levels that can support viable fish populations.

“Angling is loved by three million people, supports 40,000 jobs and generates £3billion for the UK economy. These people will not stop us fishing,” he added.

Martin Salter, campaigns manager for the Angling Trust, added: “Unfortunately the growth of social media has given a much bigger platform for all types of protest and this does include people who would love to damage angling.

“Although this is a very tiny minority we must always be on our guard to protect our sport. Unfortunately the recent ill-conceived petition for the control of otters did us no favours amongst the public at large,” he concluded.

Who are the anti-anglers?

Hunt Saboteurs Association
Mostly anti-fox hunting and to some extent shooting game, but this recent case highlights they will attack angling.

Campaign For The Abolition Of Anglers
Formed from other groups in 1985, it had over 200 members at it peak and had national campaigns and their own magazine Pisces. But it ceased to exist in 2003. Some members moved onto The Black Fish group, an international marine conservation organisation.

People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals
This wealthy USA-based group, supported by stars like Pamela Anderson, want an outright fishing ban but are very unlikely to get it in the fishing- mad States where there are nearly 30 million anglers. They don’t even want catch-and-release fishing to be allowed.

The Royal Society For The Protection of Birds
This wealthy group formed in 1889, and are not anti-angling, and allow fishing on many waters they control, but ban fishing on other venues. But they don’t support any culling of cormorants, and won’t be drawn into the otter debate despite the furry predators killing thousands of birds a year. Had an income of £140.6 million in 2017.

Royal Society For The Protection Of Cruelty To Animals
Not directly calling for a ban on angling, the group who have an income of £143.5 million in 2016, thinks angling is cruel. Their own policy statement on angling says: “The RSPCA believes that current practices in angling involve the infliction of pain and suffering on fish. The Medway Report has proved to the satisfaction of the RSPCA that fish are capable of experiencing pain and suffering. The RSPCA advocates that those anglers who see fit to pursue their activities adopt a code of practice based on this report.”

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