Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon has announced a review of the impact of fish eating birds on our waters - but is it really fresh hope, or just a cosmetic exercise - see analysis here.
Defra has also published on its web site the terms of reference, scope and timeframes for what it calls "an evidence-led review of Defra’s current policy in relation to controlling the impact of predation on inland fisheries and fish farms from fish-eating birds, and, specifically, in relation to the threat of serious damage caused by cormorants, goosanders and red-breasted mergansers".
Mr Benyon's office said the review would be in four phases:
1) evidence and data gathering;
2) analysis and assessment;
3) public consultation if required;
The review is due to report its findings in early 2012. It comes after a campaign by the Angling Trust and other bodies to relax the complex licensing procedure needed to control comorants. The trust has already set up a website where anglers can report cormorant sightings.
Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said: "This review will be evidence-led and it is therefore vitally important that anglers keep reporting sightings of cormorants and other fish eating birds on our cormorant watch web.
"More than 25,000 birds have been logged on the web site in the first two months, which is a great start, but we will need data from throughout the year, and throughout the country if we are to make the case for change."
In a letter to the Angling Trust announcing the review, Richard Benyon said no firm decisions had been taken. But he added: "Given the current policy is more than five years old I am keen to ensure that we are able to offer fishery managers and landowners the right tools to ensure where fish eating birds are having an impact timely and effective action can be taken to prevent serious damage taking place."
There's more on the review on Defra's website here.
Research last year showed cormorants were on the increase - despite the cull. More here.