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Anglers, clubs and fishery managers urged to use review to get cormorants on the General Licence

29.10.19

cormorants in tree

The Angling Trust and the Avon Roach Project are calling on anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners to respond to the current licensing review and press to have cormorants added to the General Licence so that we can better protect our threatened fish stocks from unsustainable predation.

The government has launched an online public consultation on the General Licence which is open for comments and responses until 5th December 2019.

The Angling Trust and the Avon Roach Project have campaigned jointly for more than seven years to have the cormorant placed on the ‘General Licence’ enabling the legal right to better protect our vulnerable inland fish populations.

A comprehensive overview of the impact of cormorants on our fisheries have been produced in two reports from the Angling Trust and the Avon Roach Project which will be submitted in evidence as part of the consultation response.

They are:

The Angling Trust's ‘Impact of Cormorants on Fish Populations of Economic Importance and Conservation Significance’ - click here

The Avon Roach Project evidence-based Challenge to NE / Defra Review of Fish-Eating Birds Policy, including history, facts and a short film- click here

The reports illustrate how cormorant numbers in the UK have increased from 2,000 in the 1980’s to a current over-wintering population of more than 62,000, and with each bird requiring at least one pound of fish every day, the level of conflict with fisheries is immense.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust said:

“This is an opportunity for cormorants to be added to the General Licence to enable angling clubs and riparian owners to more effectively control the impact these fish-eating birds are having on our fish, including those fish which are themselves meant to be protected under UK and European legislation.

2We are encouraging anglers and angling clubs to submit evidence to this consultation. To help we have published both our own evidence case and a separate guide to the consultation to help our members and respondents to make a strong case for the inclusion of cormorants on the General Licence.”

Trevor Harrop of the Avon Roach Project said:

“We have campaigned for many years to have the cormorant licensing law changed to enable a more realistic level of protection of our inland fish populations from one of the greatest and unsustainable conflicts they face.

"We now have the chance to influence the long-awaited review and it is vital that angling apathy doesn’t allow this opportunity to pass without a respectable show of individual and collective effort.

"This is likely to be the best and maybe the last opportunity we’ll get to make the difference we have all been banging on about for years and our vulnerable fish populations deserve. I have worked my rocks off for more than a decade helping to reinstate a healthy population of roach into the Hampshire Avon and I now strongly urge everyone to take part in the online survey to assist the continued recovery of our rivers, streams and lakes.”

Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust and long-time campaigner for cormorant controls said:

“The cormorant is an apex predator, unmatched in nature and is unquestionably one of the biggest threats to the health of our inland fish populations. We have pushed hard for a review of the current woefully inadequate, restrictive and inflexible licensing regime, and now, finally, we have the opportunity to achieve the changes we seek and to better protect our fisheries.

"The Wild Birds General Licence Survey runs until December 5th and we need responses from as many people as possible. All the background evidence and material is on the Angling Trust website along with guidance notes to help with completing the survey. If you don’t participate this time around please don’t complain if nothing gets done!”

Useful links:

Guidance notes for completing the online survey

The Angling Trust ‘Impact of Cormorants on Fish Populations of Economic Importance and Conservation Significance’

The Avon Roach Project evidence-based Challenge to Natural England/Defra Review of Fish-Eating Birds Policy, including history, facts and a short film

Wild Birds General Licence Survey

Joint statement from the Angling Trust and The Avon Roach Project

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