The joint statement put out recently by the Angling Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency was the product of the first of many meetings about otters and fisheries. It was based on the information available at the meeting. Since then, anglers have contacted us reporting problems on other waters. The Trust has been set up to represent the views of all anglers, based on good quality information, and we have therefore produced a questionnaire for anglers to let us know what is going on in the rivers and stillwaters they know best. [click here for more details]
We need to understand more about what and where the problems are before we can find, and fight for solutions.
Funding for Fencing
On stillwaters, small clubs and fisheries cannot afford to install fencing to keep otters out. The Angling Trust is working with the Environment Agency to identify funds which could help these small businesses protect their fish. We will be issuing detailed guidance on how to apply for funding, fence design and recommended contractors to all our member clubs and fisheries so that they can take action.
On rivers, potential solutions are more complex. Fencing is not an option. Calling for a cull of otters would be political suicide and would create an army of enemies of angling. Anyway, the law does not allow any interference with otters or their habitat. Otters are here to stay. On a number of rivers, otters co-exist with excellent fisheries. We therefore need to address the factors which make otter predation a problem for anglers.
In rivers which are affected by low flows, pollution and habitat damage, fish populations cannot withstand an effective predator such as the otter. The return of otters to unnatural and unhealthy fisheries is disastrous, because the fishery is not generating replacements for their prey.
Potential for Restocking
A temporary solution is re-stocking, and the EA has offered to help with this, but we demand rapid action on rivers which are polluted and over-abstracted. We will fight for widespread restoration of spawning and nursery habitats and cover. Low flows make predation much easier. Pollution kills and prevents the creation of tens of millions of fish each year. Dredged and canalised rivers have no spawning or nursery habitat, or hiding places for fish. Cormorants are decimating whole year classes of future specimen fish.
All these battles we can and will fight ferociously, and with the support of enough anglers we will win. It would be madness however to fight battles we are sure to lose and which could destroy angling.
To participate in the questionnaire please click here.