Where do you go for your information?  If you put 'cormorants the facts' into a well-known search engine you will probably find your way to this useful document on the Salmon and Trout Association website and also on the Environment Agency's website.

But there are other places to seek your facts - for example this website, this one, this one, or this one.  You choose.

Up until now Defra has tended to follow the first route for its information. Here is Defra's policy on cormorants. But we are worried that fisherman Minister Richard Benyon might be minded to change the policy under pressure from his fellow fishermen.

Defra talks a lot about evidence-based policy making and yet the previous lurch towards unjustified, unregulated and unmonitored cormorant killing was not founded on good science - in fact it was founded on some pretty poor science (see link here) and is likely to have under-estimated the impact of culling on cormorant populations (see published scientific paper here).

Mr Benyon's predecessor, Mr Ben Bradshaw, caved in to the more rabid arguments of some fishermen, and showed his weak grasp of the subject, by claiming that he had been harassed in the street outside his flat by cormorants.  You don't need to be a fishermen to recognise something very fishy about this.  In fact the Minister looked very foolish.  Now we all know that the current minister, Mr Benyon, knows his birds (and some of his fish) pretty well so he is surely going to do better.

The cormorant is not the prettiest bird in the world but this is not a beauty parade.  And the RSPB does not oppose all killing of any cormorants.  What we would expect is that government does not allow wild birds to be killed just because they are a bit inconvenient to a few people, not because they are black and less-than-pretty, and not without reasonable evidence of damage and reasonable evidence that non-lethal measures have been tried without much success.

Unless the not-too-beautiful cormorant gets a decent deal we cannot be sure that some fishermen will not move on to otters, herons, mergansers, kingfishers, grebes and a host of other species which quite naturally eat fish.  And then others will suggest that sparrowhawks would benefit from a bit of thinning out in numbers.  After that the grouse moors will be bristling with cries to limit hen harrier numbers (as if they aren't already!) and peregrines and golden eagles.  So, when I hear 'black luftwaffe' I hear the irrational thin end of a massive wildlife-harming wedge.

I like cormorants but their numbers have increased over the years and they may well cause occasional problems for fisheries.  There should be remedies available for fisheries with serious problems.  The thing is - there are remedies available for fisheries with serious problems.

 

 

Anonymous
  • I personally think that with good scientific reason and the numbers can take a cull that it doesn`t matter what the animal is, it can be culled. Mark says this isn`t a beauty thing but its in human nature that it is. A cormorant cull would probably go reasonably unnoticed but cull badgers, otters or any bird of prey and the world goes mad. If the RSPB sees a need for maybe culling 1 species then it does open the door for anything but that is correct.

    Also i would believe that humans pushing many fish into 1 lake for fishing is very unnatural as they are existing on unnatural food stuffs to support a higher density therefore its the humans making the problem by putting food on the table, that is how most agricultural or social pests become a problem. There is no such thing as natural balance.  

    Mark couldn`t resist having a go at the grouse moors even talking about a sea bird.

  • Competitiveness in Fishing is increasing as is the anglers intolerence towards competing predators.  Otters are being killed now by the misguided and I'm uncomfortable with the RSPB taking a stance that may allow some culling of Cormorants because if Osprey continue to increase in numbers in the south, don't be surprised if anglers take it out on them too.  Where would the RSPB stand in this instance ?

  • Cormorants - I suggest the question is have cormorants spread inland to rookerys where they had never been seen, until very recently [last 10 years] - answer yes.  

    Should we be worried that cormorants are now resident outside their traditional habitats and that the increase in their numbers forced them to take up residence in these new locations?  If yes, then should we not reduce the population so that they do not colonise new places where their impact is harmful and causing economic damage?

  • Can't disagree with that one bordercollie - can't disagree at all

    But it's good to be right all the time!

    Cheers

  • I suppose Mark could appear to be left wing if you're looking from the extreme right.