After a long battle to win improved controls on cormorant and goosander numbers the new area based licensing system finally comes into force on 1st September. Angling clubs and fishery owners are being encouraged through a new Hugh Miles film to seize the opportunity to better protect their waters from the ravages of unsustainable predation.

The film features Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price from the award winning Avon Roach Project in Hampshire encouraging anglers to spend less time moaning about cormorant problems and to engage fully with the new system which can deliver more control licences for more birds over a wider area. 

Trevor and Budgie were an integral part of the Angling Trust campaign to get changes made to the cormorant licensing system and secured nearly 20,000 signatures on a national petition that was presented to the then Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon. The Trust has now been funded to employ three full time Fisheries Management Advisors (FMAs) to help clubs and fishery owners implement the new Area Based Cormorant Management System. The FMA’s have been out and about over the summer, at meetings with fishery managers and at Angling Trust Regional Forums, explaining how the new system will work.

The film Cormorants versus Roach is available on the Angling Trust YouTube channel HERE

And on the Avon Roach Project website HERE.

The new system is on trial for a year after which government ministers will decide whether to retain it or return to previous arrangements. The new FMAs can help with the following:

  • Advice on effective non-lethal measures
  • Assistance with the whole new licensing procedure including the paperwork
  • Help in coordinating efforts across a whole area
  • Advice on lethal methods of control
  • Advice on funding for anti-predation measures
  • Help with creating a bird management plan

Angling Trust Campaign Chief Martin Salter has welcomed the support of Hugh Miles and the Avon Roach Project and is urging anglers to show that they can make the new system work.

He said: “When it comes to the issue of cormorant predation and it’s impacts on fish stocks around the country, Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price are prime examples of inspirational leaders. Their work on the Avon Roach project is well documented, it’s a fantastic example to others and is now beginning to make a real difference to fish stocks on their beloved Hampshire Avon. However, they know that better controls on cormorant predation are vital to achieving a true roach revival.

“Anglers need to stop talking about cormorants they get themselves organised to take advantage of this hard fought for new system which can deliver more control licences for more birds over a wider area. This is still a pilot scheme and it is up to us to make it work and demonstrate that we need it made permanent with a higher ceiling on the numbers of birds to be shot annually. The biggest threat we face is apathy and a return to the old discredited licensing system the provided wholly inadequate protection for vulnerable fish stocks. It really is a question now a question of use it or lose it.”

Trevor Harrop from the Avon Roach Project added:

“We are delighted that progress has been made and need anglers, clubs and syndicates across the country to get behind this new system and show full support for what could be the only chance we will get to make the changes we have all been bellyaching about for so long.

Doing nothing is no longer an option, and as we say in the film ‘We mustn’t let angling apathy become terminal.’

It’s not just the roach whose survival is under threat from cormorants. Many other favourite species need all the help we can give them and supporting and taking part in the new licensing system is the very least we can do.”