Campaigners from the Angling Trust and Avon Roach Project have presented a joint letter to Fisheries Minister George Eustice repeating the call by thousands of anglers for cormorants to be added to the general shooting licence in order to reduce unsustainable predation on vulnerable fish stocks.
This followed the conclusion last month of the online consultation as part of a government review of the general licence to which anglers were encouraged to participate.
In their joint letter to the Minister the campaigners said:
“We strongly believe cormorants should be added to the general licence, subject to a regular review of their conservation status to ensure a proper balance is struck between these birds and the need to protect and restore our fisheries and our aquatic ecosystems.”
Trevor Harrop from the Avon Roach Project said:
“The biodiversity of rivers and stillwaters is at serious risk from excessive predation from cormorants. Figures on cormorant abundance from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) suggest that the UK population has undergone a 53 per cent range expansion and that the overwintering population of cormorants in Great Britain has grown from just a few thousand birds in 1980s to a staggering 62,000 individuals today. With each bird requiring approximately in excess of 1lb of fish every day it easy to see why roach and other prey fish have had such a hard time on many river systems over the last 30 years.”
At a meeting with George Eustice, Angling Trust Policy Chief Martin Salter pressed the minister to set out what further steps his department is taking to consider the evidence submitted by anglers and fishery owners and to include this in the review of the general licence.
Martin Salter said:
“It is an accepted fact that predation by cormorants is a significant factor in fish population declines, particularly in the context of low flows, loss of spawning habitat, barriers to migration and pollution that threaten the regeneration of fish populations. Cormorants pose a direct threat not only to coarse fish but to designated endangered fish species protected under European legislation, including European eel, Atlantic salmon and lamprey. We need our politicians to recognise that fish need protection as much as mammals and birds. It’s about restoring a sustainable balance.”