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CARP CHAT
Government dismisses Otter Petition but Angling Trust
continues to press Natural England over otter releases
Recently the Government dismissed
the 11,000-signature Barbel Society
petition calling for ‘non lethal control’
of the UK’s otter population and
refused to recognise that their numbers can be ‘detrimental to the river
environment’. It firmly ruled out the
prospect of any controls on numbers.
The Government response states:
‘While the Government understand
concerns raised about the impact
otters may have on fish populations,
they are a protected species and
there are no plans to introduce methods to control their numbers. The
Government understands that there
are concerns that otters may have
adverse impacts on fish populations
and wildlife more generally but we do
not accept that the otter ‘has become
a detriment to the river environment’.
They also made clear that with the
current high level of legal protection
afforded to the otter even ‘non lethal
control’, as proposed by the petition,
would constitute a criminal offence.
‘Otters are a protected species and
it is an offence to harm, capture, kill,
disturb or injure any animal and/or
damage, destroy or obstruct their
resting or sheltering places. Therefore
Rob’s
Mailbag
Hi, Rob. It’s Gary Brooks. I hope you are
well! I have taken Big Carp to faraway
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me reading the great mag in Australian
Airport while on holiday.
Rob: That’s fantastic, Gary. Thanks for
sharing that with us.
Anyone else got a picture reading BC
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6 FREE LINE
any methods of control, including
non-lethal methods, would constitute
an offence.’
Despite holding a joint meeting
with the Barbel Society on the subject
of otter predation in October 2017 and
repeatedly pressing its current management for a clear position statement on what they were seeking to
a c h i e v e, t h e A n g l i n g Tr u s t h a s
received no response and was not
consulted on either the wording or
the wisdom of launching this petition.
However, the Trust has committed
to press Natural England to take
action to end the unregulated release
of otters that have been ‘rehabilitated’
after sustaining injuries from cars or
fighting between themselves. These
animals are currently released into
the environment without any consultation or consideration of their
impacts on nearby fisheries.
Angling Trust Chief Executive
Mark Lloyd has now met with James
Cross, Chief Executive of Natural
England, who has agreed to pursue
the issue with his technical specialists, working with the Angling Trust’s
Head of Freshwater, Mark Owen.
In his letter to Natural England
Mark Lloyd wrote:
‘There are also concerns that they
are released into territories already
occupied by wild otters which could
lead to greater pressure on fisheries
and also a greater likelihood of fighting between animals. There is currently no stakeholder consultation
about where they are subsequently
released back in to the wild. We
understand that some are kept in
adverse conditions e.g. ‘hobby zoos’
and believe that regulation of this
sector is much needed.’
The Angling Trust will continue to
work with fisheries and clubs to help
them protect their waters from predation by supporting fencing for stillwaters and fish refuges in rivers. It is our
belief that campaigning to protect the
water environment from pollution,
over-abstraction and damage to
spawning and refuge habitat is the
most sensible and realistic approach
to protecting fish stocks in rivers.
These measures have widespread
public and political support, and are
more achievable than the lethal or
‘non-lethal’ control of otters.
Commenting on these latest developments Mark Lloyd said:
“The Government’s rejection of this
petition was entirely predictable and
it, along with many of the comments
about it on social media, will have
damaged the reputation of angling in
the eyes of the public and politicians.
We very much regret that the Barbel
Society acted without any consultation with us or any other organisation
with expertise in fishery management
or political lobbying. We were consequently unable to support the petition. Even the most pro-angling MP in
parliament told us that the petition
would achieve nothing.”
He added: “However, despite this
obvious setback we will do our best
to convince decision makers that the
return of otters in such large numbers
is having a detrimental impact on a
number of rivers and stillwaters and
we will continue to work with others
to try to limit any damage through
sensible and practical measures that
will not damage the reputation of
angling in the public eye.” n

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