WELCOME to the Wednesday blog – each week written by Angler’s Mail magazine’s team, focusing on happenings in the wonderful world of fishing, including latest tackle. This week’s Angler’s Mail HQ blog is by sub-editor Ben Hervey-Murray.
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IF a fox was eating chickens on a free-range farm on a daily basis, or dogs attacking livestock, they would probably be legally shot or at least swiftly removed in such a way that they don’t come back to the area.
So, if the above is correct in the eyes of the law and general public, then why is it seemingly acceptable for a seal – now living some 75 miles from sea – to be eating large quantities of inland, freshwater fish in at Bewdley on the River Severn in the past few days?
With, I might add, the full knowledge of the Environment Agency, who the Angling Trust have been doing a brilliant job of lobbying for its removal.
The EA declined the Trust’s request that the seal be removed for reasons unknown, which, as their press release points out, is contrary to their statutory duty to ‘maintain, develop and improve’ fisheries in England and Wales.
As the EA receives a large amount of its funding from us, the nation’s anglers, this begs the question: do they truly represent our interests if they’re quite happy for a stock of wild fish to be predated upon by an invasive animal at the top of the food chain?
The answer may lay in the excellent PR the seal receives, entertaining passers-by and boat trippers with its big dark eyes and cute whiskers… they certainly put on a good show.
Then compare this with the general public’s nearly non-existent knowledge of what swims beneath the surface, an apathy reflected by distinguished organisations like the RSPB and even the EA, who surprisingly seem to prefer cute things with fur to those with fins.
Sadly the best option now seems to be shooting the seal – a course of action no angler or animal lover wants. But with the EA sitting on their hands, the Trust must act in the interests of its members and address the problem.
Talking about one seal found in a lake 50 miles from home in the Cambridgeshire Fens, Graham Elliott from the RSPB summed up his organisation’s attitude towards finned animals perfectly: “It’s perfectly happy in the lake with plenty of food to sustain it. It’s not a threat to any other wildlife and hopefully it will find its way out the same way it came in.”
Unless Mr Elliot thinks that seals are vegeterian then I would suggest, sadly, that his organisation and others like it don’t care about our native wild fish stocks. I hope the Angling Trust succeed in changing their mind soon.
On a lighter note, it’s been perfect piking weather over the past few days, especially with this extra cold snap hitting this week, and there’s nothing better than nicking a big fish in tough conditions.
I recently had a day on the main lake at Suffolk Water Park and matted a brace of doubles, which I was really pleased with given the rotten weather (you can see how hard it was raining in the above photo). I was pleasantly surprised at what great condition the fish were in too – I’ll definitely be back soon.
PS I hear the Severn seal has a mate now – maybe the RSPCA will be encouraging a breeding program so they have more furry friends to care for? Would there be a market for a Bewdley seal sanctuary?
It’s chub fishing season and there have been some monsters coming out, like those in this week’s issue of the Mail, particularly from a well-known Lea Valley water. I’ll be down there for a few sessions before the season finishes for sure in an attempt to beat my PB.
Have a guess… they’re furry, like eating large numbers of specimen fish and belong in the sea!
With this freezing weather, you may well be planning a session on some warmer waters soon. If so, these tips from River Monsters star Jeremy Wade in an exclusive Angler’s Mail TV video might be useful.
And here’s a great vid featuring former World Champion and current England regular Will Raison, shot my Mail regular Brian Gay and featuring Old Ghost baits. Read about them in this week’s magazine.