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Predation

From campaigning for fish-eating birds like the cormorant and the goosander to be added to the general licence, to advising on otter predation preventative measures, the Angling Trust is lobbying Westminster to take action to protect our precious freshwater fish.

What Are We Doing?

Since the inception of the Angling Trust in 2009 we have been campaigning for stronger management and enforcement of fish-eating birds that threaten the populations of our vulnerable freshwater fish species here in the UK.

Cormorants

The cormorant is an apex predator, unmatched in nature, and is unquestionably one of the biggest threats to the health of our inland fish populations, with there being hardly a country in the world that accepts it as an acceptable coexistent without robust management.

Cormorant numbers in the UK have increased from 2,000 in the 1980s to a current over-wintering population of more than 62,000, and with each bird requiring at least one pound of fish every day, the level of conflict is immense.

This burgeoning population, now over-wintering here in the UK, is mainly made up of the European sub-species Phalacrocorax carbosinensis, which prefer living and hunting inland in the freshwater of our rivers, streams and lakes.

Otters

As otter numbers have successfully recovered across most parts of the country they are at times having an impact on some fisheries through predation of stock.

In the last few decades while otter numbers were low, still water fisheries stocked with large carp became widespread throughout the country and specimen sized fish became a real prospect in our rivers due to improved water quality, habitat and little predation.

Now otters have returned to most areas, they are presented with foraging opportunities that sometimes comes into conflict with angling interests, with numerous examples of expensive or highly prized specimen fish being taken by otters.

Joint statement on the General Licence review: October 2019

The Angling Trust and the Avon Roach Project have campaigned jointly for more than seven years to have the cormorant placed on the ‘General Licence’ enabling the legal right to better protect our vulnerable inland fish populations.

We have pushed for a review of the current woefully inadequate, restrictive and inflexible licensing regime, and now, finally, we have the opportunity to achieve the changes we seek and to better protect our fisheries. The Wild Birds General Licence Survey runs until December 5th and we need as many people as possible to take part by following the link and guidance below.

The cormorant is an apex predator, unmatched in nature, and is unquestionably one of the biggest threats to the health of our inland fish populations, with there being hardly a country in the world that accepts it as an acceptable ecological coexistent without robust management.

Cormorant numbers in the UK have increased from 2,000 in the 1980’s to a current over-wintering population of more than 62,000, and with each bird requiring at least one pound of fish every day, the level of conflict is immense.

This burgeoning population, now over-wintering here in the UK, is mainly made up of the European sub-species Phalacrocorax Carbo-sinensis, which prefer living and hunting inland in the fresh water of our rivers, streams and lakes.

86% of all rivers here in the UK are failing good ecological status according to the Water Framework Directive, which is partly assessed on general fish assemblage.
The cormorant is widely recognised, even by the Government’s own Moran Committee as causing an unsustainably high level of ecological conflict.

We are the current custodians and have a duty to leave our environment and our fisheries in as good, if not better, ecological state than when we inherited them, and so strongly urge everyone to do their bit.

We have produced a concise set of guidance notes for completing the online survey – download here

Comprehensive overviews of the impact of cormorants on our fisheries have been produced in two reports from the Angling Trust and the Avon Roach Project and we strongly urge you to take the time to read them:

The Angling Trust ‘Impact of Cormorants on Fish Populations of Economic Importance and Conservation Significance’ – download here
The Avon Roach Project evidence-based Challenge to Natural England / Defra Review of Fish-Eating Birds Policy, including history, facts and a short film – read it here
The Wild Birds General Licence Survey can be found here

We urge all anglers and angling clubs to take part. This may be our only chance.

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