The Angling Trust is urging angling clubs and fisheries to submit more licence applications over the coming winter to ensure that the maximum number of birds are controlled.
Government ministers have made it clear that they won’t consider raising the current 3,000 cap on the number of birds that can be shot until we can demonstrate that demand for licences is outstripping this figure. Although the 3,000 figure was narrowly missed in 2016/17, last year’s figures dropped to around 2,400.
The Trust is also urging angling clubs and fishery owners to work together with its Fishery Management Advisors and to apply for Area Based Licences. Some of the worst affected areas in the country are where the local angling community has failed to work together in this way.
The Angling Trust believes that these birds belong on the general shooting licence along with magpies and crows for as long as their conservation status is not threatened. The Trust has been continuing to make the case for increased control of cormorants and goosanders and has held several meetings recently with senior civil servants at Defra, Natural England, Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency to try and secure greater protection for fish stocks.
Angling Trust is going to work with Natural England to provide better guidance to fishery managers about how to submit a successful application. Extensions into April and May can be applied for to protect migrating salmon smolts where relevant and if there is a cold winter in continental Europe and a significant influx of cormorants as a result, then additional licences could be issued at short notice.
In Wales, the Angling Trust is part of a new review group which has been set up to make recommendations to government early next year for policy to help protect fish stocks, and in particular salmon whose numbers have crashed on some rivers.
The Angling Trust is working with colleagues in the European Anglers’ Alliance on a Baltic cormorant management plan and is also promoting a European-wide management plan at a meeting in Brussels scheduled for the autumn.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “We are doing all we can to protect fish and fishing from the rising numbers of cormorants and goosanders on our rivers and lakes despite substantial political resistance. We need the angling community to pull together by submitting a large volume of high quality applications, with our support, for Area Based Licences to control these birds at sustainable levels.”