SATURDAYS see the good people at The Angling Trust, the single organisation to represent all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in this country, take over our blog.
Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s blog direct from the CLA Game Fair in Warwickshire.
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LONG OVERDUE ACTION OVER CORMORANT CONTROL
THE WHOLE Angling Trust team is at the CLA Game Fair this weekend. Here we’re celebrating the decision by the Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon to replace the current bureaucratic and wholly inadequate system of licensing the control of cormorants with a new catchment-based approach which will allow for predator control based on local needs rather than arbitrary national limits.
The Angling Trust’s Action on Cormorants campaign, which we’ve been running for the past three years, has received high profile political and celebrity backing including from TV presenter Chris Tarrant, and has led directly to this success.
The Angling Trust has invested a huge amount of time and energy over the past three years campaigning for angling clubs and fishery managers to have the right to protect fish stocks from predation by cormorants.
Bird numbers have exploded out of control since the 1980s to the point where the survival of many fish stocks was being dangerously threatened.
For example, on the once famous Hampshire Avon Environment Agency surveys have shown a virtual collapse of roach in the middle reaches of the river where cormorant predation is the highest.
Salmon smolts attempting to return to the sea have been dangerously depleted in many rivers endangering successful recruitment in future years and rural fishery businesses have seen their livelihoods threatened as a result of unsustainable predation.
Although details are yet to be fully clarified, the main features of the catchment-based system look set to include:
- An end to arbitrary national limits on numbers of birds to be shot
- Three regional advisors to be appointed to support fishery managers, funded by Defra
- Cormorant numbers to be assessed annually by catchment
- As long as the conservation status of the birds are not threatened, the scheme will continue annually
In his letter to the members of the Defra review group Richard Benyon made clear his determination to protect fish stocks saying:
‘We must balance how inland fisheries and aquatic bio-diversity can be protected from fish eating birds in an effective, proportionate and timely way.’
During the review process the Angling Trust published a 10,000 word ‘Dossier of Destruction’ illustrating the impact that the increase from 2,000 to nearly 30,000 of over-wintering cormorants has had on fisheries, angling clubs and rural businesses. There were 80,000 hits on the Trust’s special Cormorant Watch website recording sightings of the birds.
Back in 2010 the Angling Trust persuaded Richard Benyon to review the hugely-bureaucratic rules which have completely failed to protect fisheries and wild fish stocks from the dreadful affects of a near 15-fold increase in cormorant numbers in the UK over the last 25 years.
Time after time we had reports of angling clubs and fisheries whose stocks were in real trouble only being allowed to shoot a couple of birds a year when literally hundreds of these lethal predators were wreaking havoc on the local fish stocks.
We’re delighted that we have won a major decision from the government this week to announce sensible predator management measures and will work with them to find a sensible balance between birds and fish in each and every catchment.
The current situation had got completely out of control and real action on cormorants has been long overdue.
Now, if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of anglers who have been waiting to see what the Angling Trust can really achieve, I’m hoping that this news might make you join up. To do this now, visit www.anglingtrust.net or phone 01568 620447 during office hours next week and we will sign you up so that you can be part of our fight to protect fish and fishing!
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