THE Angling Trust have been in high level talks to try and ease the crisis surrounding otters and fish stocks in mainland UK.

The Barbel Society petition calling for the non-lethal control of otters may have received short shrift from the Government, but the Trust hope to get action.

One small measure would be to try to stop the unregulated re-release of wild otters that have been rehabilitated after being injured by cars or fighting.

These are currently released into the environment without any consultation or consideration of their impacts on nearby fisheries.

The Trust, which was opposed to the BS’s petition, has been pressing Natural England to take action to end this practice.

In a letter to NE, AT chief executive Mark Lloyd wrote: “There are concerns that otters are released into territories already occupied by wild otters which could lead to greater pressure on fisheries and also a greater likelihood of fighting between animals.

“There is currently no stakeholder consultation about where they are subsequently released back in to the wild.

“We understand that some are kept in adverse conditions e.g. ‘hobby zoos’ and believe that regulation of this sector is much needed.”

Mark subsequently met with James Cross, NE’s chief executive, who agreed to pursue the issue with his technical specialists, working with the AT’s head of freshwater, Mark Owen.

Mark told the Mail: “The Trust is actively pursuing with Natural England and the Environment Agency a number of measures to manage the impact of otters on fisheries.

“We will do our best to convince decision makers that the large number of otters is having a detrimental impact on a number of rivers and stillwaters.

“And we will continue to work with others to try to limit any damage through sensible and practical measures which will not damage the reputation of angling in the public eye.

“We will continue to work with fisheries and clubs to help them protect their waters from predation by supporting fencing for stillwaters and fish refuges in rivers.

“We continue to deliver a wide range of campaigns and legal action focussed on improving water quality, restoring healthy river flows and habitat in our rivers so that fish stocks are better placed to withstand the pressures of all forms of predation,” he concluded.

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