BARBEL SOCIETY chairman Steve Pope (pictured) has welcomed the positive response by the Angling Trust to their appeal for assistance in addressing the problem of declining barbel numbers.

But Steve fears that there could be limits to their possible support on some matters, and to get results more anglers have to stand up to be counted by joining them in the struggle ahead.

Steve recently highlighted the decline of barbel stocks on many rivers,something many fans of the species have reported seeing evidence of.

Angler’s Mail magazine has received many emails and letters on the topic, and the Angling Trust has offered to work with the Barbel Society and others over the issues behind the problems.

In an update to Angler’s Mail, Steve said: “Although the initial response has been encouraging in their offer to meet with us and others to try address the issue, I do believe the Angling Trust is compromised in how far it will go by the source of its funding and their current stance on otters.

“Without doubt the most significant factor in barbel decline on our smaller and medium sized rivers is the exponential growth in the otter population.

“Those that re-introduced them did so without consultation and with scant regard to the devastating impact this apex predator could have on fish and other forms of wildlife.

“Until now the Angling Trust have been unwilling to accept the extent of the damage or believe that anything can be done about it because of the wildlife lobby and public opinion about furry animals.

Barbel need protecting, insists Steve Pope

Steve added: “Never mind the otter being protected, our barbel and other fish need protecting from them or else there will be no legacy of decent river fishing to be left for our children.

“The Trust are prepared to help with otter fencing and to remove otters from within them for still waters but this mainly helps commercial fishery interests, with the trapped otters released on rivers to reap havoc.

“There is also no doubt also that more otters are being released into the wild from certain wild-life enthusiasts.

“They are close to becoming everywhere like foxes and almost tame in a few places.

“The Barbel Society is developing a strategy to tackle this alongside organisations like the Predator Action Group which we will reveal in the near future.”

David Seaman shares his experience of barbel

In the meantime, former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman is someone with personal experience of the decline in barbel numbers on his local River Kennet and elsewhere…

David (pictured above) explained: “When I moved to Berkshire I could stand on a bridge near me, throw some pellets in and watch 30 to 40 barbel underneath but nowadays you are lucky to see one or two.

“I used to live on the banks of the Thames where barbel were once plentiful but I understand this in no longer the case.

“The fishing has become really hard here – last season was a grueller although this one has been a bit better.

“I recently came within a few ounces of my PB with this 13 lb 2 oz specimen (pictured), making two doubles and seven around the 8 lb mark all told in my short sessions.”

“My fishing time is currently a bit limited and I will shortly be taking on an occasional ambassador-type role with the Gunners doing stadium tours.

“I’m hoping for an improvement in the barbel fishing and a higher Premier League place for the Arsenal this campaign.”

CAUGHT A BIG FISH OR GOT SOME VIEWS TO SHARE? Email photos exclusively to: anglersmail@timeinc.com – and be sure to read the weekly Angler’s Mail print magazine.