ANGLING got a boost against cormorants when funding for two key specialists was guaranteed for a further two years.
The Environment Agency have given approval to use rod licence income to safeguard the workers at the Angling Trust.
Since being appointed three years ago, the Fisheries Management Advisers have helped hundreds of venue managers on rivers and lakes, not only with licence applications but with practical advice to protect fish using innovative techniques like lasers and lifelike mannequins.
While their work will be very much focused on the issues around fish-eating birds, the FMAs are also able to advise those fishery managers encountering other predation problems such as otters.
Jake Davoile, FMA for the south of England, said: “We advise fisheries on how they can manage the menace from cormorants in particular both by non-lethal methods and actual culling, and help groups come together to apply for an area licence.
“The Hampshire Avon is a good example where 36 organisations have combined together to hold a licence which covers about 85 per cent of the river.
“There is a limit to the number of birds that can be actually culled and there are some problems remaining but the situation is much improved from the past and fishing is prospering along the river.
“To put things into perspective though there are now estimated to be 37,000 cormorants here in winter and a maximum of 3,000 are allowed to be culled in England each year.
“We also advise on otter fencing and the removal of otters from fenced waters although the funding for this comes from a different grant.”
Richard Bamforth, who covers the north, added: “This isn’t a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job. We are available 24/7 and spend an average of three days a week on site visits and two days doing the various necessary reports.
“Natural England issues the licences and decide how many birds can be actually killed in each location depending on the size of the problem and other factors,” he concluded.
Over the three years to February 2017 the two FMAs attended 35 regional freshwater forums, 160 fishery group meetings and 352 site visits, and established and support 16 area-based licences across England. In addition, the FMAs offer technical advice via telephone and email exchanges across England, Wales and southern Scotland.