Managing Our Fisheries:Fight Invasive Species | Control Predators | Keep Fish Healthy
Predators that eat fish are part of the natural ecosystem, and sustainable levels of predation are important for the health of fish populations because predators tend to select injured, sick or old fish.
However, there are many places where ecosystems are not natural or where fish populations are suffering from other impacts, which means that predators can cause major problems to fisheries. Introducing predators to fisheries which are suffering from weak fish populations because of pollution, over-abstraction, or lack of cover for fish, is utterly irresponsible. Anglers who try to apply for licences to shoot cormorants and goosanders find the process far too bureaucratic and the licences are often inadequate for the purpose. One of our members had 85 cormorants sitting on a pylon overlooking his fishery, and was given a licence to shoot 2!
There have been recent proposals to release beavers back into the wild. While they don't eat fish, they do build dams and destroy bankside vegetation. Until our river systems are completely restored and man-made barriers to fish are all removed, such a move should not even be contemplated.
Fisheries in certain parts of the country are suffering from predation from cormorants, goosanders, seals and otters. The Angling Trust carried out a survey of our members in 2009 and received many reports of tame otters which indicates that they are still being released into the wild against official guidelines.
What we will do:
- Continue to lobby DEFRA for an increase in the number of licences awarded for the control of cormorants.
- Provide guidance to our members about how to go about applying for a licence to shoot cormorants and work with the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to provide training and volunteers to help.
- Lobby Natural England to publicise the fact that it advises against the reintroduction of otters now that natural regeneration has been successful.
- Campaign for the protection and restoration of damaged river systems so that they can support healthier fish populations.
- Lobby the Environment Agency for more funds to be released to support the cost of fencing and other deterrents at still water fisheries to keep out otters.
- Lobby Natural England to halt plans to reintroduce beavers.
- Provide advice and secure funding for catchment restoration. Funds must be used to recreate nursery and refuge habitats to provide protection to fish from predators.
- Assist individual fishery owners with applying for licences to control cormorants, goosanders and mergansers.
- Commission independent research into the impact and management of predators.