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A LANDMARK legal case could see fishery owners who want to kill or trap and remove any predators that impact on the their business immune to prosecution.

It is thought this can be extended to otters as well fish-munching birds like cormorants.

But a recent decision by the Hugh Court Of Justice in London to overturn a decision by Natural England which refused a licence for a gamekeeper to be allowed to control predators (in this case buzzards) from damaging his livestock and business has massive effects on the future management of fisheries.

Ricky McMorn, a gamekeeper from Northumberland, had been suffering financial loss as a result of predation upon his pheasant stocks by buzzards.

A Predator Action Group statement said: “The similarities between the problems faced by fisheries at the hands of predators is clear to be seen.

“Natural England had refused to grant the licence to use lethal means to control the birds on the basis that buzzards are protected and also it felt that the public would not support such an application.

“The judge, Mr Justice Ousley overturned their decision and criticised Natural England making it clear that public opinion should not be taken into consideration in the application of the law, and added that it had been made according to an undisclosed policy which went beyond NE and DEFRA’s powers in law.

“The ramifications of this decision for fisheries are great in that the law applies to fishery protection in exactly the same way as it does to protect gamekeepers. If financial loss is suffered and there are no other alternatives, fisheries have the full weight of the law on their side to protect their stock from financial loss,” it added.

This is a version of the story that appears in this Angler’s Mail printed magazine. Get the magazine every week for top tips, big news, best products, and venues that are in form.

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  • charlie

    The problem with people controlling protected species like otters is that much of the time people can’t even identify animals correctly. For example the otter in the photo here is a species not found in the UK – but in Asia.