CORMORANTS are an outstanding success story. At a point of such critical decline in the 70s that they were placed on the protected species list, there is now a winter population of over 23,000 in the UK alone – and that’s the problem.
Their food is fish – including endangered species such as salmon, bullheads, lampreys and eels. Cormorant flocks congregate at river bottlenecks during salmon and smolt migrations and can annihilate whole runs of fish.
Such is the concern about the quantities this bird consumes that Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries, has called for a review of the measures that gave the Cormorant protected status. He proposes that cormorants should now be managed at certain times of the year to protect the fisheries, and urges a review of the system granting licences to shoot cormorants, currently issued by Defra.
He was speaking at the Third National Angling Summit (December 11), organised by Martin Salter MP, and attended by the Salmon & Trout Association and representatives of other fisheries associations.
Comments Paul Knight, Director of the Salmon & Trout Association, “There will always be those defending cormorants’ right to take fish unhindered. Our position is that there must be a managed balance between prey and predator. We have vigorously lobbied for increased flexibility for fisheries to be able to protect vulnerable stocks of fish from cormorants. We are delighted with the Minister’s proactive stance.”
The Moran Committee Joint Bird Group, of which the Salmon & Trout Association is a leading member, has produced an information leaflet and booklet, “Protecting your Fishery from Cormorants”. This is viewable on www.cormorants.info or obtainable from the Salmon & Trout Association at 0202 7283 5838.
The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) is the senior game angling organization in the United Kingdom. For the past 100 years, the S&TA has had successful input to every major piece of fisheries related legislation passed in the UK. We represent 15,000 individual members and 85,000 club members, and have 52 volunteer run branches spread across the UK. Environmental issues are at the core of our work.
The Moran Committee, chaired by Lord Moran, is the united voice for all the main fisheries and angling groups in England and Wales. The aim of the Committee is to reach consensus on current fisheries and angling questions.
The Moran Committee Joint Bird Group started meeting in January 2001 to develop constructive dialogue and co-operation between anglers, fishery interests and bird interests. The aim of the Committee is to identify common ground on the bird predation issue and to ensure that a reasonable balance is struck between the need to conserve both fish and birds. Members are committed to finding acceptable management strategies to what can be a challenging situation. Membership includes English Nature, Environment Agency, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Institute of Fisheries Management, Defra, and the Moran Committee. The website www.cormorants.info is managed by the Moran Committee Joint Bird Group members.