A NEW petition calling for the shooting of cormorants is to be allowed under general licence quickly gained over 22,000 signatures in its first week.

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Neil Cohen put up the petition aimed at DEFRA on the change.org webpage after seeing the damage caused by cormorants on Anglian Water reservoirs.

Trout angler Neil explained: “I started this petition alongside one to Anglian Water themselves asking for them to apply for a licence under current rules due to my concerns about the number of cormorants on their reservoirs that I fish.

“Rutland Water alone has a estimated 1,000 cormorants which eat one ton of fish a day.
The aim is to reduce the number of cormorants in the country by 50 per cent.

“I believe the numbers of cormorants has increased considerably over the past five years since the last survey was conducted and that these birds, which should be feeding at sea, are increasing because they have found a much easier food source inland.

“Cormorants are the greatest threat because the number of birds exceeds the numbers of fish being stocked.

“In addition coarse anglers have noted a drastic decline in the numbers of wild coarse fish because of the numbers of cormorants now found on all inland fisheries.

“It is widely accepted that we want our youth to be outside enjoying the countryside and that all pleasure fishing numbers are in decline which will continue if less fish can be caught year on year.

“Currently an application needs to be made by the fishery to gain a permit to cull a small amount of cormorants each year per fishery, and we now request a change in the law to place the great cormorant under general licence.

“I’ve already had an angry reaction from someone claiming to be from Anglian Water saying their waters are bird sanctuaries and they have no intention of applying for a licence regardless of our petition,” added Neil, from Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

Cormorants petition welcomed by Trust

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, commented: “We welcome all efforts to support our long-running and intensive campaign to persuade politicians to allow angling clubs and other fishery managers to control the numbers of cormorants doing damage to their fisheries.

“We have been encouraging all clubs and fisheries with licences to shoot birds to ensure that they use up their licences because the Minister has promised us that he will only review the maximum limit if it is exceeded.

“Our fishery management advisors provide free and expert advice to clubs and fisheries and can help put area based licences in place to co-ordinate control in a catchment,” Mark added.

Pressure group supports more predator control

Tony Gibson, chairman of the Predation Action Group, said: “We support all attempts to control predators.

“Organisations like the Angling Trust are doing sterling work in relation to cormorants so we want to focus more on tackling the menace from otters which other groups seem more reluctant to take on board.

“We are currently advising and supporting several individuals who want to apply to Natural England under current legislation to allow them to take action to remove the menace of otters that are damaging their fish-stocks.

“One has never been granted before but we hope to achieve this and are available to support any other club or fishery owner who is wanting to try the same path.

“We will also shortly be republishing our document on predation called the Big Picture which sets out all the information needed about the damage caused by predation,” Tony added.

At the time of this article going live online the cormorant petition had reached nearly 29,000 signatures.

Visit change.org to view the petition.

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