Anglers were this week celebrating a major victory in the fight against cormorants.
After more than three years of campaigning by the Angling Trust, the government has given the green light to plans that will make it easier for venue owners to protect their fish stocks.
The predatory birds can individually eat between 1lb-2lb of fish per day – collectively more than 1,000 tonnes every winter – and after branding the current licencing regime for the lethal control of them as ‘ineffective’, the sport’s governing body has now successfully concluded negotiations to implement new measures to stop the continuing decimation of many UK fisheries.
The new Cormorant and Goosander Management Plan will include the funding of three fisheries management advisors (FMAs), to be employed by the Angling Trust from April 2014. They will help angling clubs and fishery owners reduce predation, co-ordinate applications for licences and gather evidence about the number of birds in each catchment area. This evidence will then be used to review the existing national limit on the number of cormorants that can be shot each year.
The whole licence application process will also be simplified to make it easier for fishery managers to apply to control cormorants and goosanders.
This ground-breaking governmental support was a direct result of the 10,000 word dossier sent by the Trust to Ministers and MPs, which gave detailed evidence of the 15 fold increase on cormorant numbers since the 1980s, and how the rise has resulted in a collapse in fish stocks as well as impacting on rural businesses.
"It has been a long fight to get government to realise the damage that the increase in cormorant numbers was doing to freshwater fish and fishing,” said Martin Salter, campaigns co-ordinator for the Angling Trust.
“The next step is for clubs and fisheries to help us ensure that Government officials are in no doubt about the need for future national limits to be raised so that we can protect fish stocks more effectively in the future.”