GET HOOKED: Livelihoods at Water Park under threat thanks to the otter

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: GET HOOKED: Livelihoods at Water Park under threat thanks to the otter GET HOOKED: Livelihoods at Water Park under threat thanks to the otter

THE otter debate has filled my postbag once again this week. I’ve barely explored the issues here, but readers have been in touch to express the depth of concern across the region and have raised aspects which, until now, have passed me by.

One email came from a local fishery owner who has seen stocks heavily reduced over a two-year period. The lake’s SSSI status has prevented him from installing otter fencing, and he now faces the prospect of abandoning his angling holiday business and cutting his losses.

Another reader contacted me to discuss the effects of otter predation on bird life, and the risk of eggs being eaten from nests.

It is easy to extrapolate current concerns; empty lakes will not only damage the hard-won reputation of the Water Park as one of England’s finest areas for specimen fishing, but will have considerable impact upon local businesses – tackle shops, bait companies, holiday providers, local pubs and so on. And all this at a time when few can afford to lose custom.

Factor in additional losses from bird-watchers taking their business elsewhere and it looks like a bleak future for many whose livelihoods depend upon the Water Park. And, as Mark Bryant of Baitworks was quick to point out to me a few days ago, this scenario is being replicated all over the country.

As I have said before, I’m not anti-otters. They are beautiful, enchanting creatures and are as indigenous to these Isles as any of the fish we chase. But the effect of their presence in an environment which cannot reasonably sustain them has, to date, been catastrophic. In the long-term, it does the otters no favours either.

I would urge all fishermen to look at www.thepredationactiongroup.co.uk for more information. The otter is here to stay, and rightly so, but we must ensure that it is not at the expense of our fisheries, or the businesses they sustain.

I managed to get out last week, and enjoyed a brief trip to the syndicate lake. I’d not been there since October, and it was good to reacquaint. The mid-double-figure carp which found its way to my net made it all the more enjoyable. I can only hope that future generations get to experience the same pleasure as I did, and that the otter debate is, for them, a distant memory. Let’s hope so.

Catch reports: jon_s_berry@yahoo.co.uk

Twitter: @jonberrywriter

Website: www.jon-berry.net

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