Cull would save rivers and lakes

Cormorants are out of control on local rivers and lakes
Cormorants are out of control on local rivers and lakes

ANGLERS have caused alarm for local bird watchers after calling for a cull of the large flock of out of control cormorants roosting on Dungannon’s Black Lough.

The 50 or so protected birds nesting at the popular beauty-spot have been blamed for the complete collapse of fishing at the Black Lough and on local rivers, leading to fears that anglers might abandon Tyrone’s waterways.

The UK’s cormorants, nicknamed by anglers as the Black Death, are said to consume 23,000 pounds of fish a day, including young salmon, silver fish, eels and trout.

“I have seen the demise of the quality of coarse fishing in the Dungannon area over the past 20 years because of the cormorants at Black Lough”, said a Dungannon fisherman.

“They are having a serious effect on fishing in the South Tyrone area. The Black Lough itself has gone from being a local mecca for good pike fishing to a virtual desert.

“The local Loughs and rivers which are not club protected are suffering greatly from a predator which is used to fishing at sea or in Lough Neagh, not on small rural lakes such as ours.”

He went on to call on the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce a raft of measures that have already been introduced in England as part of the new Cormorant and Goosander Management Plan.

However, a spokesperson for RSPB said there were already provisions to control cormorants.

He said: “There are already provisions to control cormorants which are already higher than we would comfortably agree with and they don’t seem to have any increasing evidence of cormorant predation on fish.

“We appreciate they can be a problem at certain fisheries but are non-lethal steps they can take to protect their stock.”