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
  • Hi Mark - I've clicked on the three links - I just wonder why the RSPB's Conservation Director is giving these folk "oxygen" - surely this is what they want!

    I share your opinion regarding ex-BBC left-wing loony Baby Ben Bradshaw - he's the MP for Exeter isn't he? - A bit near the water with his local constituents!    

  • Think that although cormorants have been around for thousands of years it is relatively new thing that they have come inland in massive numbers in the last 35years and they must do a lot of damage to commercial fishing lakes unless controlled and interestingly our local one has no problem with Otters and Herons taking his fish but does not like the Cormorants as they were always a sea bird.

  • trimbush - try the second link in the second para for one example of the use of this phrase.  And thank you for your encouraging remarks.  

    jockeyshield - great point!

    gill brown - you are so right.

  • To add to my a.m. comment, the problem I am sure is not with nature, such as cormorants and the like, the problem is with over fishing and destruction of the aquatic habitats. If habitats and fish stocks were allowed to recover and fishing was then carried out on a sustainable basis, there would be fish for fishermen and fish for cormorants. After all cormorants have been around for thousands of years without harming fish stocks. It is because fish stocks are so reduced by over fishing that some fishermen wish to kill cormorants and perhaps anything else that they see as competition. Except perhaps in a very few special situations, the right solution is the application of sustainable fishing quotas while leaving the poor old cormants alone.

  • “So, when I hear 'black luftwaffe' I hear the irrational thin end of a massive wildlife-harming wedge”

    Well – stone the crows – ‘black luftwaffe’ is it?  

    Never heard of the phrase – ‘phoned four friends and asked them what or who is the ‘black Luftwaffe” – no one knows!

    I said it was Mark Avery – and they all replied

    “Not that left-wing loony who keeps misleading the nation about farming’s impact on the environment and bird-life in particular and knows nothing about the countryside and wildlife? – You’d think after 25 years the guy would appreciate such matters – still he likes National Hunt racing.”

    “I hear the irrational thin end of a massive wildlife-harming wedge”

    “…….. a massive wildlife-harming wedge” ?  Hells bells!

    Really Mark – be provocative “by all means” but when you go ‘over the top’ as you have in this ca(u)se - you look rather silly and incidentally you weaken your argument by illuminating it in this way..