Angling and Swans

Anglers have been criticised for more than two decades about swans and fishing tackle, and they have been making genuine efforts to overcome these problems.

Anglers have been criticised for more than two decades about swans and fishing tackle, and they have been making genuine efforts to overcome these problems.

New research by the Environment Agency reveals that injuries sustained by swans from angling-related activity has decreased in number. Most angling clubs now enforce strict anti-litter measures and ban offenders from their fisheries. Lead poisoning incidents have also fallen substantially since the withdrawal of anglers’ lead shot in the 1980s.

However, the statistic is still unnecessarily high. Swan rescue groups and the RSPCA attended to over 8,000 swans in trouble last year, with 3,000 of these due to angling related activity. The majority of these incidents occurred during the summer months when young, inexperienced anglers were most likely to be fishing. They were also concentrated in urban areas at “free” council controlled fisheries, which were not sufficiently managed.

The National Angling Alliance cannot condone injury to waterbirds resulting from their sport and anglers must take responsibility. For the first time, angling and swan rescue groups are working together on this problem through the formation of The Angling and Swans Liaison Group. Members include the National Federation of Anglers, the National Convention for the Welfare of Swans and Wildlife and the Environment Agency and they will look to find solutions acceptable to both parties.

Education will be key. National coaching schemes organised by NAA member organisations all include modules dealing specifically with environmental issues. There are also 500 qualified coaches across the country educating anglers of all abilities on the care of wildlife and the countryside. The NAA will also press for partnerships between councils and local angling clubs to control the problem blackspots for the benefit of wildlife.

This situation, however, is not black and white. There are other factors which increase the risk of injuries to swans which need to be addressed, particularly the different leisure activities now using water, and especially increased river traffic. The NAA wish to see other bodies take a similar responsibility to reduce the 5,000 swan injuries which are not related to anglers particularly the increased incidences of birds flying into power lines.

The NAA will also be working closely on this issue with the Countryside Alliance and will seek positive negotiations with the RSPB and RSPCA to further the ends of angling and the environment.