The RSPB says it is ‘outraged’ that the Government has licensed the killing of 1500 cormorants in England in what it calls ‘a misguided attempt to protect the sport of angling’.

The are saying that RSPB lobbying has ‘pushed the Government to amend its policy on the control of cormorants in England, to ensure it met legal requirements’.

In a press release, the RSPB claims: ‘The number of cormorants licensed to be killed continues to increase, and the RSPBsays it fears it could even double to reach 3000 individuals, despite the fact there are only 3145 pairs of cormorant nesting in England.

Julian Hughes, the RSPB’s head of species conservation, said: “Whilst we are relieved that some of the serious flaws in Defra’s original policy have been addressed, we are extremely concerned that 1500 birds have been allowed to be killed already, and that this figure is likely to grow.

“We will challenge Government to ensure that this killing will not threaten the bird’s conservation status, and we want to see the licensing system made more transparent to ensure that licences to kill cormorants are not being issued needlessly or illegally”.

Julian Hughes added: “Government, angling and conservation bodies have a responsibility to work together to continue to improve our wetlands for wildlife and to develop non-lethal ways to sustain fish populations to ensure a positive future for both angling and cormorants.”