Angling Trust Launches Cormorant Watch 2 Web Site
Angling Trust Launches Cormorant Watch Web Site and
Calls on Minister to Act to Protect Fish
The Angling Trust has called on the government to do more to protect rivers
and lakes from fish-eating birds.
In a letter to Environment Minister George Eustice, the Angling Trust is demanding
a doubling of the number of cormorants licensed to be shot in England annually to 6,000.
It also calls for the relaxing of the requirement for evidence that goosanders are damaging
fisheries before a licence will be issued.
The Angling Trust says the new measures are needed to halt the decline in coarse and
game fish in England, particularly endangered salmon and eels which are now at
critically low levels nationally. Other species such as roach, dace, trout and barbel have
also seen numbers fall in many rivers and lakes.
The letter coincides with the launch of Cormorant Watch 2 – a website where members
of the public can record sightings of cormorants, goosanders, red-breasted mergansers
and their roost locations. Over 120,000 sightings of birds were recorded when the first edition
of Cormorant Watch was launched in 2012, which helped the Angling Trust make the case for
the introduction of Area-Based Licences (ABLs) for lethal control of birds, which have
reduced bureaucracy and costs for hard-pressed fishery managers and angling clubs.
Pressure from angling organisations and angling-related businesses initially saw a previous
government introduce a limit on cormorants licensed to be shot of 2,000, with a temporary
increase to 3,000. Since then, the work of the Angling Trust has led to fishery managers applying
for a far greater number of cormorant licences.
Despite this progress, angling’s representative body believes that a new annual limit of 6,000
for cormorants and a simpler process for licensing the control of goosanders to enable far more
than the 283 shot last year are both required. The low number of goosander licences issued is
despite the fact that fisheries have put in a huge amount of volunteer time and effort to provide
evidence by organised bird counts to prove to Natural England that larger numbers are needed to
protect fisheries. Natural England have rejected several strong cases for goosander licences on the
basis of insufficient evidence of need for lethal control.
The Minister promised in a letter to the Angling Trust in 2013 that he would review the upper limit
of cormorants licenced to be shot if there was evidence of demand. After two winters of licences
exceeding 3,000 birds, the Angling Trust believes that this condition has now been met.
Similar demands will be developed in Wales and Scotland based on the results of Cormorant Watch 2
over the next six months.
The Angling Trust continues to believe that the best outcome would be for cormorants to be included
on the general licence as long as the conservation status of the birds is not threatened. However,
we have not been able to persuade ministers to adopt this approach which is why we are pressing for
the best possible outcomes within the licensing framework.
The angling community invests many thousands of hours in volunteer time in using non-lethal means
to deter cormorants from their fisheries but lethal control is needed when other means have been exhausted.
More than one million people fish in rivers and lakes in England and Wales, and the freshwater angling industry
employs 30,000 people, generating billions for the economy each year.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “Stocks of salmon, eels
and many river coarse fish have declined dramatically in the past couple of decades and predation from
cormorants and goosanders is a key factor in the context of widespread pollution and loss of habitat.
UK anglers would like to see governments in England, Wales and Scotland protect threatened fish stocks
by allowing fishery managers greater freedom to control cormorants and goosanders, the population of
which would not be at all endangered by our sensible proposals. We urge all anglers to record sightings
of these birds and their roosts on our easy-to-use Cormorant Watch 2 web site so that we can have the
evidence to change policy and the way it is implemented throughout the UK.”
Media contacts: Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, on
07973 468198 | Mark.Lloyd@anglingtrust.net
Mark Owen, Angling Trust Head of Freshwater, on 07545 733245 | Mark.Owen@anglingtrust.net
The Cormorant Watch 2 website can be accessed here.
Read more about the Angling Trust’s cormorant campaign here.
The letter the Angling Trust sent to the Fisheries Minister can be downloaded here.
The campaign poster can be downloaded here.
The Angling Trust employs two full-time Fishery Management Advisors in England, funded by the Environment Agency from fishing licence income, to advise fisheries and angling clubs about a variety of methods to protect their fisheries. Find out more here.
(Top) – Cormorant populations have grown steadily in recent years and the damage they are causing to fish stocks is huge.
(Right Upper) – The Angling Trust is encouraging anglers to report sightings of goosanders, which cause huge damage to threatened salmon and sea trout stocks in Wales and Scotland.
(Right Middle and Lower) – Fish-eating birds can often damage fish without eating them, leaving them with serious wounds that can eventually prove fatal.