Cormorant Campaign July 2014  

The next stage in the cormorant issue is underway with the introduction of three Fisheries Management Advisors (FMA’s), employed by the Angling Trust and funded by anglers’ Rod Licence revenue, together with a new area licence allowing and encouraging greater flexibility for fisheries being able to work together for greater effect.

They are in place for a twelve month period, after which the effectiveness of the policy change will be assessed by Defra, the Angling Trust and others involved in this issue. We expect to be included in this.

Ministers have confirmed that if, after this trial period, monitoring of the combined need for lethal control exceeds the current national limit of 2,000 cormorants (and up to 3,000 for short periods), the limit will be reviewed.

The FMA’s are working hard up and down the country, and are in no doubt about the scale of the task ahead of them.

They will need everyone to get involved and take part. They will need a high level of uptake and energy; and the early signs are good, with a great reception so far. This needs to continue.

As is often the case with anything like this, those who have been at the hub of it for so long need to show a deal of stamina, and we think we have done just that, in bucket-loads. This now also applies to those who have simply sat and watched and waited. It’s easy to get tired and weary of what seems to be yet another hurdle to overcome, but the fact is, unless we in angling all get our fingers out of our arses and wake up and start working together for the common good, our sport is destined for suicide by apathy.

Two of the FMA’s came and presented at our local Wessex forum and I (the Trevor half of the ARP partnership) was asked to give a ten minute talk on the background to the campaign, how we have reached this stage and an introduction to them. I didn’t leave anyone in any doubt about the seriousness of the situation and the burden of responsibility that rests on all our shoulders.

In fact, ears were pricked; eyes opened and attentions grabbed with hard facts and subtle poignancy.
It was suggested afterwards that it would be an advantage if I could deliver the same introduction at all the forums around the country just ahead of the FMA’s presentation. This, of course, would be out of the question due to Avon Roach Project duties.

Two options were to either have what I said written and read out ahead of the FMA’s, or make a little film of it.

Well, would you believe it? Great mate and ARP supporter from day one, Hugh Miles offered to make the film with us.

The link is below.

A few weeks after their presentation at the local forum, the two FMA’s, Richard Bamforth and Jake Davoile, came and visited us here at Project HQ, then on to our stews at Bickton, and we were delighted at their enthusiasm and energy. They deserve everyone’s support; and indeed need everyone’s support, as without it they will be unable to deliver what we all need them to.

Details of these guys can be found on the Angling Trust web site

Please, give your support. Encourage the application for cormorant licenses on all fisheries with a problem through your clubs, syndicates, river keepers and land owners, and encourage as many as possible to take part in what may be the last chance we get to make the difference we have all been bellyaching about for so long.

If a fishery has a problem with cormorant predation but there has been no licence application then the assumption will be that there is, in fact, NOT a problem.

Doing nothing is no longer an option.

I mention in the film, our ‘Biodiversity in Danger’ document and that it can be found on our web site, so for convenience we thought we’d drop it in here below




Cormorant Campaign September 2012  

The Avon Roach Project’s call for the cormorant to be put on the ‘General Licence’ has now gathered a great deal more attention and support as the campaign continues beyond the delivery of our petition, and enters the next, equally crucial stage.

The Angling Trust has now launched its ‘Action on Cormorants’ campaign which is also calling for the cormorant and goosander to be put on the general licence, and we have worked in close partnership with them on this from its inception and will continue to do so until, and beyond, the announcement by Richard Benyon in November or December 2012, being as we are all shouting for and demanding the same thing.

Our next step here was to produce a template letter for download to be signed and sent to MP’s across the country to lobby for their support. We also intended producing a template letter for sending to Richard Benyon himself. However, now the Angling Trust have come on board, we are happy to divert our energies to the support of the joint campaign; after all, the Angling Trust is a little better endowed with political clout than the Avon Roach Project. Notwithstanding, the project, our petition, and what the project stands for remains one of the foundations of the campaign, and features in  a poignant campaign film made by our great friend Hugh Miles.

View the campaign film here.

We have shared our database of contact details used and received through our petition campaign with the Angling Trust to assist with the distribution of information for the Action on Cormorants campaign.

And we are asking each and every one of you guys to continue your support in helping us achieve our objective of getting the cormorant put on the general licence in this country.

  1. Find out who your MP is at and send an email stating that you support the campaign to get cormorants added to the General Licence to protect fish stocks. You might want to use the letter template which you can download HERE (template for emails to MPs.doc). Please feel free to add to, or amend the text as you see fit - we have just provided some words to save you time
  2. Pick up a postcard from tackle shops and fisheries which are taking part in our campaign, put a stamp on it, and send it to your MP. If your shop or fishery doesn't have any postcards, please ask them to contact the Angling Trust on Facebook, by calling 0844 77 00 616 (Option 1) or at and they will send them a bundle

  1. Send an e-mail to stating that you support the campaign to get cormorants added to the General Licence to protect fish stocks. You might want to use the email template which you can download HERE (template for emails to Defra.doc). Please feel free to add to, or amend the text as you see fit - we have just provided some words to save you time
  2. Write a letter to Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Fisheries and the Natural Environment at the postal address below stating that you support the campaign to get cormorants added to the General Licence to protect fish stocks. You might want to use the letter template which you can download HERE (template for letters to Richard Benyon MP.doc). Please feel free to add to, or amend the text as you see fit - we have just provided some words to save you time
Slightly harder but even more helpful...
  1. Find out who your MP is at and post a letter to them using the template which you can download HERE (template for letters to MPs.doc). Please feel free to add to, or amend the text as you see fit - we have just provided some words to save you time
  2. Contact your MP's office and ask for an appointment to go and meet him or her to raise the issue in person. If you represent a local club, tackle shop or fishery, please make sure you mention this when you meet your MP
...and for the really committed!
  1. Find out who your MP is at then organise a vote at your angling club, consultative or fishing match to find out who supports the campaign to get cormorants added to the general licence and take a record of the names of the members and send this to your MP
  2. Send a press release out to your local newspaper, radio station and any local news web sites saying that your club/fishery/tackle shop supports our campaign.
There will be substantial opposition to putting cormorants on the General Licence, not least from the RSPB. If the Minister is going to take this decision, he needs to know that it has widespread support. We have already had great support from politicians on all sides, but we now need every angler to make their voice heard in support of this proposal.

We are not aiming to get rid of all cormorants, or even calling for a cull. We are simply demanding the legal right to protect our fish stocks. The Angling Trust will take a lead on co-ordinating action in catchments throughout the country, and advising our members about how to control birds responsibly, and on non-lethal techniques where necessary

Cormorants - Key Facts:

Biodiversity of our rivers and many still waters are at serious risk from excessive predation from cormorants

Numbers have exploded in the last two decades to unsustainable levels

Rivers and waterways are failing under the Water Framework Directive and of those failing over 50% do so due to poor fish stocks

Waters that have been heavily impacted by cormorants take years to recover under the present system - sometimes failing all together

Populations of indigenous species like roach on the Hampshire Avon are under serious threat of extinction

Modification of our rivers by man has resulted in salmon and sea trout being increasingly vulnerable to cormorants and goosanders as they try to migrate to sea through weirs and hydropower plants

Direct threat to designated endangered fish species protected under European legislation

Over wintering cormorants estimated at 23,000. Each individual eats at least one pound of fish EVERY DAY (2,760,000lb of fish each winter)

Numbers increased by non-native immigrants (European sub-species Carbo Sinensis) from mainland Europe
The present licensing system is woefully inadequate and does not give us the capabilities to protect our fish properly

The Eel Management Plans submitted and accepted by the European Commission estimate that between 29 & 43 tons of endangered eel are eaten by cormorants every year in England and Wales.

The government's Moran Committee acknowledged the damage that cormorants can do to inland fisheries

We have been in communication with some of those opposed to our proposal, and read some of the soft-centred articles in the press by the uninitiated and find the denial, short sightedness and head-in-sand attitude extraordinary.

Our call for the cormorant to be placed on the general licence is simply to enable the legal right to protect our endangered and extremely vulnerable inland fish populations from possibly the biggest threat to not only our roach but the very balance and biodiversity of our entire ecosystem from the unimaginable damage being done each winter by the unsustainable level of predation by cormorants.   

This is possibly the only opportunity we’ll get to make the change so desperately needed, or face a future in which we all look back in shame and with deep regret.

So please go to and find out who your MP is, go to your local tackle shop and pick up a post card or download a template letter from this site and send it off. Please do your bit. Please don’t leave it to someone else.

A joint statement from the supporting organisations: Angling Trust, Angling Trades Association, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Avon Roach Project, British Association of Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, Predation Action Group, Salmon & Trout Association, The Rivers Trust and the Wild Trout Trust, can be read HERE.

Our Avon Roach Project statement, which also appears on the Angling Trust web site can be read HERE...

Thank you for your continued support.

Cormorants – Biodiversity in Danger March 2012  

Cormorants – Biodiversity in Danger
What a week! Following a joint press release from the Avon Roach Project and the Angling Trust regarding the Cormorant petition handover, the BBC called and asked if they could come down and film Trevor fishing on the Avon on Tuesday for a piece to be shown on BBC Breakfast on the Wednesday 22nd Feb, when we would all be travelling to London to hand over the petition to the Minister.

Fortunately Trevor was fishing that day with Hugh Miles and Martin Salter. The link to the piece is below. Judge for yourselves, but we were delighted at how balanced it was and that we were able to put our points across.

Wednesday came and we met the Minister Richard Benyon at 11-30am outside Defra headquarters in central London. We took our places and posed for the pictures, then Trevor was put forward to say a few words to the Minister about the cormorant problem in this country with contributions from Chris Tarrant, Peter Pleydell-Bouverie, Hugh Miles and Martin Salter.

From left to right:- Back Row - Mark Owen (Angling Trust), Hugh Miles, Feargal Sharkey (Singer and UK Music Boss), Charles Walker (Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Angling), Richard Benyon MP (Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries), Chris Tarrant, Trevor Harrop, Peter Pleydell-Bouverie, Peter Orchard and Jim Wreglesworth. Front Row - John Slader (Salmon & Trout Association), Budgie Price and Martin Salter (Angling Trust)

Just as the growing support for the Avon Roach Project itself has astounded us, and continues to do so, so has the overwhelming support for our campaign and petition to have the cormorant licensing law changed.

We would like to thank everyone who has signed the petition and everyone who gave up their time to come along and support us at the handover in London, and in particular, Martin Salter of the Angling Trust who has been instrumental in getting the meeting and handover to happen.

The announcement of the review of the cormorant licensing regime is to be made in the summer of 2012, so in the meantime we are going to continue to collect petition signatures both on-line at:-

and through the return of the hard copies in all the fishing tackle shops throughout the country.

We are extremely optimistic that a positive change to the current cormorant licensing law will be announced in the summer.

We have worked extremely hard and have already achieved an enormous amount, but for now the battle goes on and the pressure needs to be kept up.

Cormorants – Biodiversity in Danger Petition Handover    

We are delighted and extremely proud to be able to announce that on 22nd February 2012 we will be handing our 17,000+ signature petition to Richard Benyon MP outside Defra offices in London.

While we are disappointed in the response to our on-line petition, the day was somewhat saved by the number of people taking part in the paper version we sent out to every fishing tackle shop in the country.

Confirmed attendees on the day are us two representing the Avon Roach Project and the original band behind the petition, plus other members of the original band Jim Wreglesworth, Pete Orchard and Hugh Miles, who is hoping to film it all. In addition to us, Mark Owen and Martin Salter, former Reading West MP who has been instrumental in getting the handover to happen and who has shown fantastic support, will be representing the Angling Trust. And finally, Chris Tarrant who will be doing the official handover, hand shake and smiles for the press.

As many of you already know, we are calling for a change in the currently woefully inadequate law regarding the Cormorant licensing regime, and for it to be included on the ‘General Licence,’ enabling the legal control of cormorant numbers where they pose a threat to our fish populations and inland freshwater habitat and ecosystems.

The cormorants’ ability to decimate fish populations in our rivers, streams, ponds and lakes is unmatched in nature. They are currently not only the biggest threat to our inland fish populations, but pose a secondary and unimaginable threat to our kingfishers, grebes, bitterns and more.

Nobody would argue that we shouldn’t have the right to protect our environment, but the current law does not allow this.

The Cormorant problem is NOT Avon specific, but is country wide as has been unequivocally confirmed on our petition sheets and on-line comments.

If you haven’t yet signed the petition and would like to just click on the link below.
And to those of you that have, we’d like to thank you very much.

We can take pride and comfort in the knowledge that nobody has done more than we have, and that we have done as much as is possible for us to do in trying to bring about a change in the law. Let’s hope that the minister shows strength, resolve and foresight and makes the changes the future health and diversity of our inland freshwater habitat and ecosystem so desperately needs.

Fingers crossed, and watch this space.

Avon Valley Cormorants – Biodiversity in Danger

In a bid to improve the odds of returning a self-sustaining population of roach to the middle reaches of the Hampshire Avon, we are co-fronting a progressive drive, to address the contentious issue of cormorants, a major factor in their decline.

Much has and will continue to be written and debated about this subject; some of which only serves to further muddy the already cloudy view and scale of the problem, some loaded with political point scoring as the aim, some riddled with defeatism, and some simply based upon inaccurate information and belief.

So, in order to forge a united front and gather as much support as possible, something angling is not readily known for; we have produced a factual document for mass circulation, which we hope will clarify the whole situation. The document, which you will find below, outlines the current situation with the woefully inadequate cormorant licensing laws, and ‘what is needed.’ to make that change.

We have also set up an on-line petition to accompany this document, with which we will lobby Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries.

As you will see, it is not simply a document of personal opinions, but of absolute facts. It will enable us all to sing from the same song sheet in a united drive to have the law changed in the forthcoming review of the cormorant licensing system, announced by DEFRA in January 2011.

We must all collectively strive to have the cormorant included on the ‘general license,’ allowing the legal control of numbers where they pose a threat to fish populations, which we all accept as being a vital link in the food chain and a fundamental element in the underpinning of the remarkable biodiversity of our rivers and lakes. We welcome, with open arms, indigenous piscivorous species such as the Great Crested Grebe and our beloved Kingfisher, both of which WILL suffer terribly as a direct result of us allowing the cormorant to continue to over-fish our rivers.

So we call upon you to lend your support and read and endorse our document and join us in our attempt at gaining the right to protect our environment from this non-native, invasive species.
Please take a few moments to sign our on-line petition. Just click on this link

Please forward this link to and inform as many people as you think would also be willing to offer support and a petition signature, and in this way, hopefully, together we can make the critical difference that is so desperately needed.

We are both constantly bowled over by your relentless, and amazing, support for our project, and we feel sure you will not let us down here either.

We are forever prepared to do our bit, as you all know, way above and beyond the call of duty some say, and we now call upon you guys to support us and do your bit.

Thank you.Budgie and Trevor