What is the issue?
S&TCUK believes that, in a closely management environment such as the United Kingdom, all water-dependent wildlife should, where necessary, be managed on an ecosystem basis under catchment management plans, and not, as is common today, because one group of species has more attraction to, or support from, humans than another. An example would be that, in a river protected as a Special Area of Conservation, in which salmon are a designated conservation species, the fish require just as much legal protection as their potential predators, such as otters and cormorants, even though the latter have more public appeal than the 'invisible' salmon.
What S&TCUK has achieved so far
- As part of a combined Cormorant Working Group, including fisheries organisations, Government Agencies and the RSPB, we produced two briefing booklets on protecting fisheries from avian predators
- In 2004, S&TCUK was a lead organisation in convincing the Fisheries and Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, to relax the licensing process for controlling avian predators
- With other fisheries organisations, we have successfully lobbied for a review of licensing procedures for managing aquatic predators, arguing for an ecosystem approach to the issue
What still needs to be done?
- Although S&TCUK would never condone the killing of otters, we are urging Government to make introductions of captive reared otters illegal. Animals should be allowed to re-colonise waters naturally, as the environment allows
- A robust input from fisheries organisations, including S&TCUK, to the current Government review of licensing procedures, with an emphasis on protecting all vulnerable species within ecosystems
- S&TCUK is urging education that otters and fish eating birds can only flourish in healthy aquatic ecosystems in which all other water dependent wildlife, especially fish stocks, are at maximum production. However, the presence of predators does not necessarily mean that the environment is healthy - predators should not be seen as the ultimate indicator of a pristine aquatic environment. It is the fish, invertebrates and other water-dependent wildlife that must be the accepted litmus test as to ecological status.