THERE may be light at the end of the tunnel for fishery owners and clubs whose waters have been plagued by fish munching cormorants for years.

Under a bizarre European ruling which most experts accept was a mistake, the thriving Carbo Sinensis species of cormorant which is now very common in the UK is a protected species.

With the bird thriving on freshwater fish, many fishery owners have had to sit back and watch as the birds have destroyed their venues, eating their way through millions of pounds worth of valuable fish stocks.

However, the Government’s Fisheries and Nature Conservation Minister, Ben Bradshaw, this week hinted that the laws protecting the birds are likely to be re-examined.

He has told angling’s hierarchy that he will not bow to political pressure groups such as the RSPB and he is expected to come back to them in the New Year with a detailed brief of how the problem can be tackled. The announcement has received wholehearted support from the Government’s advisor on angling, Martin Salter.

“At the Summit, the Minister was asked by myself and Terry Mansbridge of NAFAC if he would look into how and why the French can shoot up to 25,000 of these birds annually, and legally, when we have such strict rules in the UK,” comented Martin Read of the S&TA.

“He was reminded that the French have to work to the same rules from Europe as we do. He was also asked if he would look into the situation in the USA, where the Double Crested Cormorant is causing problems to fisheries, similar to those being experienced in Europe, but where rules governing these birds at fisheries and fish hatcheries have been significantly relaxed to allow greater control of numbers.

“The Minister agreed to look at both these points with regard to their relevance to the UK situation.”