Licence to kill cormorants refused

A year ago I wrote on this blog that the application for a general licence to shoot cormorants was unlikely to be successful. And so it has turned out. Understandably, to some extent, the Angling Trust supported this as being in angling’s interest, but its case was always weak. Including the Avon Roach Project’s submission was never going to be much help. The ARP’s ‘evidence-based’ argument — ironic in view of the absence of evidence for its own restocking project — is a series of selective citations from papers without broader understanding.

There are many misunderstandings over cormorants and fishery predation. One that is new to me is that the inland cormorant we have in the UK today is of Chinese origin. I saw this from one of the more doltish members of the piking forum, some members of which I hear are smarting from my last post (and responding in the only way they know — with abuse). There is some excuse for jumping to this conclusion: the species name, sinensis, means Chinese, though whether this is apparent to these Fakebookers is questionable. In fact there is no evidence that these cormorants originated in China; the name probably came about for historical reasons. Those interested may research this for themselves.

Regrettably Martin Salter, the AT’s Head of Policy, is not well informed on cormorants:

“Whilst the Angling Trust has won plenty of campaigns of late for the benefit of fish and fishing, it’s a matter of extreme frustration for us all that governments of all persuasions seem reluctant to acknowledge the damage these invasive birds can do to some of our vulnerable native fish species.”

The European cormorant is not an invasive species. It’s a native whose population is expanding now that it is no longer persecuted. The Trust would be better advised to concentrate its efforts on the water quality of our rivers, something we can legitimately do something about. The cormorant is part of our ecology, like it or not, and licences for wholesale control are very unlikely to be granted. Anglers kick up an almighty fuss when fish are threatened, yet wish to destroy other wildlife. Not a good advertisement for our assumed environmental credentials.

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