To All Members of the Wensum Working Group
From Roger Gibbons
Cormorant Control on River Wensum
As far as I can gather no Cormorant Control Licences have been issued for the River Wensum only for Lakes and Pits within the Wensum Valley. As a significant amount of the River does not have adjacent gravel pits in it’s length the River itself, as we all know, in a number of places, is very vulnerable to Cormorant Predation.
As you are probably aware DEFRA carried out a survey last year (ended December 2019) where they asked for views from Fishing Clubs; Riparian Owners etc. on the current General Licence in Operation for other species. The survey asked for suggested additions to the current listings and I know that a number of Clubs etc completed the Survey and asked for Cormorants to be included. From my enquiries with Natural England and The Angling Trust I understand that although results of the Survey have been collated there will be no decisions on amendements to the General Licence until this December at the earliest.
What this means therefore is that if you already have a current Cormorant Control Licence and want it re-newed for this coming Cormorant Control Season (1st September 2020 to 15th April 2021 you need to follow current renewal procedures if you have not already done so. If you want to apply for a New Licence you will have to follow current application requirements which I and Jake Davoile from The Angling Trust will be happy to help you with. However Licences by Natural England are issued very much on their own merits and very much ‘Evidence Based’. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your application and this could need to include such information as shown below:-
Photographs of damaged fish.
Fish Survey results for your stretch of River showing a decrease in Fish Stocks.
Photographs of habitat improvement undertaken to provide adequate cover and refuge for fish stocks.
Alternatives currently used to ‘shooting to kill’ including any regular scarring regimes you may have in place.
Member presence- members need to be encouraged to visit venue on a regular basis and not just when they fish.
Use of scarecrows or similar on river banks.
Documentation of sightings of cormorants on River showing location, date, time, numbers and behaviour. (Angling Trust have a monitoring sheet to enable this data to be documented).
Identification of any known ‘roosts’ on your stretch.
Anyway the above is the current position regarding the process of obtaining a Licence Yes it is time consuming and labour intensive to collect and collate data prior to application but we do have the opportunity to use Jake Davoile from Angling Trust to help if needed . Also I realise that the above is not what you necessarily ‘want to hear’ and you, like me, were hoping that The General Licence would include Cormorants but, as advised earlier in this note, my understanding is that we will have to wait until December before a decision is made. Therefore if you do want a licence in the mean-time you must be prepared to ‘put in the work and gain the evidence’ and then apply in line with Natural England requirements.
I do hope the above is useful in helping you make decisions on your ‘way forward’ for your stretch of river with regard to cormorant predation and if you do need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on 07544847713 or e mail [email protected]
The angling trust latest campaign on predation is available here https://anglingtrust.net/predation/