Anglers urge cull of cormorants for eating too many fish

A A A

It has become Liverpool's mascot, standing guard over the city at the Pier Head on the Mersey. But the cormorant, or Liver Bird, is facing a cull after angry anglers claimed the birds were eating too many fish.

It has become Liverpool's mascot, standing guard over the city at the Pier Head on the Mersey. But the cormorant, or Liver Bird, is facing a cull after angry anglers claimed the birds were eating too many fish.

Cormorant numbers have increased from 7,000 pairs to more than 12,000 in the past 20 years since they gained protection from random killing in 1981.

Now Ben Bradshaw, the fisheries minister, is to allow an extension of the licensing system to make it easier to gain permission to kill the birds inland around England's waterways and fisheries.

Mr Bradshaw, who says he had been harassed by cormorants outside his own flat, said that he believed the cormorant was "a pest".

The announcement, to be made formally next month from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will infuriate bird lovers who say the cormorant has always lived inland and is only recovering its population after years of persecution.

The RSPB said that fisheries managers were to blame for failing to protect their stock, adding that for a cormorant a well-stocked river was "like putting out nuts for a blue tit".

A spokesman said yesterday: "The cormorant, which is Liverpool's Liver Bird, is now being regarded as a pest but it is a legitimate party of our nation's fauna. What is being proposed is an endless death sentence for cormorants. Culls rarely work. They will just create a vacuum that other cormorants will fill.

"We accept it may be necessary for fisheries to shoot to scare birds, but not as a population-reduction measure."

Cormorants can grow up to a metre long and are about the size of a goose, with a maximum lifespan of 23 years. They are distinguished by their habit of standing on sandbars or logs with the wings outstretched. Although they are regarded as seabirds, they are now commonplace around inland fisheries and waterways, including the tidal Thames and the Trent in Nottinghamshire, where they fish for dace and trout.

Last year, Defra granted 135 licences to kill cormorants and 445 of the birds were shot. Currently fisheries must prove that they have tried to scare the birds away and provided refuges for fish before they can apply for a licence to shoot them. But the new regime could make it far easier to gain a licence to shoot the birds.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Defra is actively considering measures that will increase the level of licences to kill cormorants at local levels. This measure may well help fishery owners and angling clubs deal with the increasing problem of predation by cormorants."

Martin Salter MP, the Government's official adviser on angling and shooting, said the "cormorant is a lethal killing machine" and a widespread cull was now necessary.

"They can eat up to 2lbs of fish a day which means they take up to 30,000 tons of fish a year. Whole fisheries could be cleaned out of stock," he said. "It is all very well for the RSPB to complain about a cull but they were all in favour of culling ruddy ducks when they thought they were breeding with the [endangered] white-headed duck."

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser