The number of cormorants in the Uk has increased by 17 times in the last 25 years and the RSPB do not see that this is a problem

Possible soloutions to cormorant damage,

Firstly there is no point in restocking unless you can get fish of 3lbs in weight minimum (Very expensive) and many species of fish do not grow this big, this is why there are so many bloody carp everywhere, you have to keep the vermin birds off or have a water that is so small that these bastards cant fly in.

There is NOT a bottomless pit of fish here!

You must ask yourself what the birdwatching organisations do when faced with a vermin creature that could seriously damage their interests. Be it bird or mammal they go after it with such ferocity that it quickly ceases to be a problem. The RSPB only protects some birds and they don't have to consult anyone first, let alone have a five year survey!

You may need to get yourself a double-barrelled cormorantbuster!

The organisation that issues licences to shoot this vermin is: The Department of Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs. You can ring them on 08456 014 523, and ask for form WC1A.

If you have a cormorant problem then you must complain to the Environment Agency. They have a duty of care to our fisheries and our fish, if they do not help then they are in neglect of this duty. I have been told that they already have thousands of letters from clubs and individuals complaining about these greedy birds and it's about time that they did something. They get a massive amount of money from us in rod licence fees and it's disgracefull that they are sitting on the fence.

However, the Environment Agency claim that cormorants are not their responsibility, this claim is not suprising as Baroness Young (formerly of the RSPB) is in charge.

In the light of the English Nature survey, no.360 predicting 10,000 or more inland cormorants within the next few years in addition to the 4-5,000 coastal birds that we get every winter flying up from the coasts. You can work it out for yourself, 15,000 cormorants for 365 days will kill a staggering, sixteen million four hundred and twenty five thousand fish! at an average rate of three fish a day. As they cannot eat large fish but they can still kill them this figure would probably even higher. This would wipe out our already depleted waters.

I have a few solutions in mind.

1. Protection for cormorants on rivers to be completely removed up stream of the tidal limit.

2. A survey undertaken on each nature reserve to determine just how many cormorants that particular reserve can support, the numbers checked independently, and kept down to the level determined by the survey.

3. Bird watching reserves to be made to charge a fee to their visitors and the money collected to be used to restock rivers and lakes where damage has already occurred.

4. It should be made an offence to encourage cormorants into new areas. You are not allowed to dump on your neighbours in other walks of life, so why this? It would be OK if the birds kept to the reserves, but because birdwatchers want more cormorants than their waters can support our great rivers and lakes have to suffer.

Here are a few more practical Ideas:

You can legally reduce the number of cormorants in your area, the best way is by starving them.

In a cold spell of weather the lakes will be frozen, the cormorants will have to feed on the rivers. Get as many club members as possible together and from first light be on the water use boats if possible and harrass the cormorants when they try and feed, keep the birds moving do not let them settle, they have to eat almost every day so if you prevent them for one week then you should see a difference.

Do not stock waters with small fish, do your best to prevent the birds from reaching the water in the first place. This can be done by running strings or wires across the lake or river leaving only small spaces to fish through.

On many sections of river there are long stretches of featureless bank with no cover for underwater wildlife or fish. So, plant some trees, fence them to prevent cattle from eating them and place cages like these in the water.

If you have a colony of the freshwater birds nesting on your waters it is fairly simple to humanely controll their numbers. The eggs can be sprayed with vegetable oil for two years in every three. This would stop the population from increasing at 35% per year. This could easily be done by the RSPB and nature organisations. But of course because cormorant damage is not directly affecting them, yet. They will not do this.

You can also remove all of the trees on the island that the birds will be nesting on. This sounds drastic but as the trees are going to die anyway, you might as well do it.

You are not allowed to shoot the birds unless you have a permit, these permits are very difficult to obtain and take a very long time to get, all of the time your fish are being eaten, and guess who gets to approve or disapprove of the permit?

There are many illegal ways of controlling these birds that are far more subtle than shooting and can be very effective. I will not be listing them here.

These cages allow fish to pass straight through preventing cormorants from pursuing them.

Because fish are agoraphobic (they do not like open spaces) they will congregate around these cages. When attacked by cormorants, the fish will obviously head for the cover and hopefully escape capture or fatal injury. This should enable many more to grow large enough to be safe from being swallowed by cormorants and therefore be able to sustain fish populations.

These cages are inexpensive (about £10.00 each in materials,)they can be placed at 20yard intervals in the river staked and tied with nylon rope. They can easily be lifted out by one man for clearing of debris,weed etc. or in order to fish in that particular spot they can then be returned to the river at the end of the fishing session. They should provide 24 hour protection for fish particularly small to medium sized roach and Chub. A 5 lb 4 oz chub can easily swim through this mesh, it does not have to be as large as this
The size of the mesh is 20cm by 10 cm and the gauge is a strong 7 mm, you can make two cages approx. 2 feet 6 ins by 3 feet by 4 feet it costs £17.50+vat to make two cages. These photographs were taken on the middle reaches of the Hampshire Avon, a river that has been particularly badly hit by cormorant predation.

This cormorant was unlucky!

It met a river keeper who was a good shot.

I was fishing on the river test in Romsey, Hampshire in February 2001 and it came floating past. I saw it as a good photo opportunity so I fished it out. This photograph proves that the mesh can protect our fish from these birds.

NB. this is a carbo carbo ( saltwater ) cormorant, the carbo sinessis ( freshwater ) cormorants are apparently up to 30% smaller but judging by this photograph this mesh should also work for the freshwater cormorants.

This photo shows a 1lb 8oz roach that has at least has reached a size that a cormorant will find difficult to swallow, so obviously one solution is to stock your river with fish of this size, or larger. This is very expensive.


Making these cages is fairly simple, the mesh comes in large sheets 4 meters by 3 meters and all you have to do is cut the stuff into measured sizes according to your preference and depth of water you will need some long bolt cutters and something to bend the ends with, a length of conduit tubing for example. You must be sure that the mesh is set up lengthwise up as in the photos because otherwise the cormorant may be able to squeeze through.

I think that it is unlikely that the birds will learn to turn sideways in the water in order to get through this mesh but this remains to be seen, even if they do it will still slow them down and then we may have to use a smaller mesh.

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