Anglers angry over cormorant claims

THE angling world has reacted angrily after one of the sport’s most influential organisations claimed that cormorant numbers are in decline and the birds pose no threat to fisheries.

In a press release issued entitled ‘Don’t Kill the Cormorants’, the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) said that research carried out in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) ‘proved that the number of breeding pairs in the UK is in decline.’

Even though both organisations agreed that licenced killing of the birds ‘might be an option at particular sites that had too many cormorants’ in a recent presentation to the London and South

East branch of the IFM, representatives also stated that a combination of scaring the birds away and improving fish habitats would be more beneficial to stocks, angling and conservation in the long run.

The claims have understandably provoked an outcry at the Angling Trust, who have tirelessly campaigned to protect the nation’s fisheries from wide-scale predation and recently published a report on the damage caused by cormorants in a bid to persuade the government to put the birds on the general shooting licence.

“Back in February we published a 10,000 word dossier highlighting the massive damage that cormorants and goosanders have done to freshwater fisheries and how their numbers have risen to plague proportions,” said Mark Owen, the Trust's Freshwater Campaigns Manager.

“The idea that these predators are not a problem is patently ridiculous.”

Martin Salter is the Trust’s campaigns chief and he added: “I’d like to see these people try telling fishery owners and angling clubs who've been put out of business by unsustainable predation that numbers are in decline and there’s no need to control their numbers. “

When Angling Times contacted the IFM in order to question the data behind his organisation’s contentious claim, IFM Public Relations Officer Alan Brothers said: “This information has come from RSPB research and the considered view of fisheries professionals.” When pressed further to divulge the identity of the ‘fisheries professionals’ he was allegedly referring to, Mr Brothers refused to do so.