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Severn Seal Set to Stay

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Anglers on the River Severn are said to be ‘dismayed’ after a golden opportunity to return a seal in the river to the sea was missed last weekend.


Source: Angling Trust

 

The Angling Trust has been coordinating efforts to remove the seal from the river in order to protect the fishery. The seal entered Diglis Lock last weekend (27 October 2013) and was retained by the lock keeper, but had to be released because a licence application by the Angling Trust to Natural England, the government regulator, had not been approved.


The Angling Trust has, over the past months, secured the agreement of the Canal and River Trust to allow the seal to be captured on their property, and has persuaded experts from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity to attempt a rescue of the animal if it could be trapped in a lock, so that it can be returned to the sea. The Trust then secured Environment Agency support for its application for a licence to capture the animal on the basis of damage to the fishery, and submitted the paperwork. On Thursday last week, an official from Natural England contacted the Angling Trust to advise that more evidence would be required of the damage that the seal was doing to fish stocks before a licence could be issued.


Anglers claim the seal has been eating its way through fish stocks on the river for up to a year and although it had disappeared for several months it appears to have taken up residence in the river and it is thought to be having a major impact on fishing and has been seen eating salmon, barbel, pike, zander, chub and ducks.


Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said:

“An official from Natural England contacted me last week asking us to provide evidence of the damage to fish stocks and to quantify the financial impact on angling club revenues. He suggested that we should apply the same criteria for assessing damage that Natural England require for a cormorant licence under the old system. I could hardly believe my ears. He admitted that he had no expertise in fisheries and that he was a terrestrial ecologist.

I told him that the Environment Agency had conceded that the animal was having a local impact on the fishery and that they supported our application, and I put him in touch with my contacts there. We are all very disappointed that this opportunity to capture the seal humanely has been missed and we will continue to do all that we can to navigate through the last few stages of the bureaucratic maze to get this seal safely back out to sea where it belongs.”


He added:

“This really is bureaucracy gone mad and shows how out of touch some of the people are at Natural England when it comes to angling and fisheries. Anglers come from all over the country to fish the River Severn and contribute to the local economy. It should be a simple business to issue a licence for experts to return a marine mammal humanely to the sea and get it out of a freshwater environment where it is obviously eating very large quantities of specimen fish.”







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Comments (23 posted):

binka on 28/10/2013 15:51:15
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Just how stupid are Natural England? Good old Keith eh...
Paul Boote on 28/10/2013 17:24:18
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They should have called out the local Bobby, PC Gonne-Madde, as he seems to be the one the Trust and everybody "of a certain age" seems to frothing and foaming about now....
S-Kippy on 28/10/2013 18:48:03
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Should have quietly shot the damned thing a year ago. I doubt there'd have been any shortage of people willing to do it.
cg74 on 28/10/2013 21:29:34
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Does anyone know if the ATr are going to lodge an official complaint against Natural England for their gross incompetence? As to me it looks a pretty black and white case, with NE supplying the rope to hang themselves with..... "He admitted that he had no expertise in fisheries and that he was a terrestrial ecologist. I told him that the Environment Agency had conceded that the animal was having a local impact on the fishery and that they supported our application, and I put him in touch with my contacts there."
Paul Boote on 28/10/2013 23:08:12
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It is now clear, clearly, that ANYBODY who works for or is in the least bit involved with ANY organization - RSPCA, RSPB, Natural England, the E.A., the BBC, the NHS, your Local Authority (including roadsweepers) and the Goverment for that matter - whose life doesn't revolve around fish and who is not totally au fait with their international and national importance, indeed who has a life outside of water and stupid smelly scaled things, must be publicly exposed, derided, fired and preferably shot. Of vital importance this, as we pay our £30 or £80 on a licence and countless £s on ego-boosting tackle and they do not. Nuff said, as I might start ranting about "my rights" (and nobody would want that).
Peter Jacobs on 29/10/2013 04:22:52
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It is now clear, clearly, that ANYBODY who works for or is in the least bit involved with ANY organization - RSPCA, RSPB, Natural England, the E.A., the BBC, the NHS, your Local Authority (including roadsweepers) and the Goverment for that matter - whose life doesn't revolve around fish and who is not totally au fait with their international and national importance, indeed who has a life outside of water and stupid smelly scaled things, must be publicly exposed, derided, fired and preferably shot. Of vital importance this, as we pay our £30 or £80 on a licence and countless £s on ego-boosting tackle and they do not. Nuff said, as I might start ranting about "my rights" (and nobody would want that). It has nothing whatsoever to do with a life revolving around fish Paul but everything to do with having people in positions of decision-making authority who have an iota of knowledge on the subject of which they are supposed to make a judgement. This person at Natural England is clearly an demonstratively incapable of doing his job as he is wholly inexperienced and untrained in the subject. In the modern idiom one would refer to him as a "jobsworth" I suppose? If he was not sufficiently experienced in the subject then he should have sought the views of those who are, and from both sides of the story, (Martin Salter please take note) and thus armed then make the right decision.
mick b on 29/10/2013 08:19:50
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The report states that the Seal would be rescued! The animal doesn't need rescuing, its life is not in danger and it is not injured. The animal has found its way there twice if the reports are correct and maybe even a few more nocturnal visits unrecorded, so if its relocated back to the sea it will almost certainly return, and sooner rather than later. The seal population in the Solent all have GPS tracking collars fitted and one individual makes visits to the Nab Tower, this animal travels in a dead straight line from the coast straight to the Nab, it doesn't miss it or deviate, its like a guided missile homing straight to its target. If a seal can do that, the Severn seal will return easily of that there is no doubt! Biology will eventually lure it away, the need to find a mate and breed, you just hope it doesn't return with all its family and friends :omg: Perhaps the AT could pay for a GPS collar for this seal, that way following its 'relocation' it could be tracked and if found to be returning could be dissuaded from doing so. As for NE, EA, or whatever issuing licences, it can be done promptly IF the application is made by professionals trained in handling protected species. Speaking from first hand experience. .
Paul Boote on 29/10/2013 08:54:06
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It has nothing whatsoever to do with a life revolving around fish Paul but everything to do with having people in positions of decision-making authority who have an iota of knowledge on the subject of which they are supposed to make a judgement. This person at Natural England is clearly an demonstratively incapable of doing his job as he is wholly inexperienced and untrained in the subject. In the modern idiom one would refer to him as a "jobsworth" I suppose? If he was not sufficiently experienced in the subject then he should have sought the views of those who are, and from both sides of the story, (Martin Salter please take note) and thus armed then make the right decision. My word, we literal-minded Serious Soul Omiscient Piscators get so displeased when people don't immediately jump and dance to our tune, and do exactly what I saying in a lighthearted vein yesterday evening - find the culprits, name, shame and lash out at both them and their employers. We Anglers know how to make enemies everywhere, know how to get a "Never invite them to a party again ... they don't bring any drink, they drink everybody else's, they insult the hosts and everyone present, then they expect to be treated civilly..." The more we bang the "We've got the 'ump! Shut up and do as we say." drum, the worse things will become for us. Less attitude (for whatever discreet, often political, reasons), more playing nicely with our fellow classmates. Might just start getting a little of what we want, then.
Peter Jacobs on 29/10/2013 12:16:11
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My word, we literal-minded Serious Soul Omiscient Piscators get so displeased when people don't immediately jump and dance to our tune, and do exactly what I saying in a lighthearted vein yesterday evening - find the culprits, name, shame and lash out at both them and their employers. We Anglers know how to make enemies everywhere, know how to get a "Never invite them to a party again ... they don't bring any drink, they drink everybody else's, they insult the hosts and everyone present, then they expect to be treated civilly..." The more we bang the "We've got the 'ump! Shut up and do as we say." drum, the worse things will become for us. Less attitude (for whatever discreet, often political, reasons), more playing nicely with our fellow classmates. Might just start getting a little of what we want, then. No, wrong again Paul. You are either totally missing the point or being deliberately obtuse for whatever mischievious reasons. Notwithstanding, none of us have a problem with losing a single cause when debated with people who understand the problem. What is so very irksome however is when (by their own admission) they are arguing/deciding over matters that they have absolutely no knowledge. It is tantamount to taking your car to the garage to have work done and discussing said work with the oil rag and not the mechanic. N'est pas?
cg74 on 29/10/2013 12:51:24
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My word, we literal-minded Serious Soul Omiscient Piscators get so displeased when people don't immediately jump and dance to our tune, and do exactly what I saying in a lighthearted vein yesterday evening - find the culprits, name, shame and lash out at both them and their employers. We Anglers know how to make enemies everywhere, know how to get a "Never invite them to a party again ... they don't bring any drink, they drink everybody else's, they insult the hosts and everyone present, then they expect to be treated civilly..." The more we bang the "We've got the 'ump! Shut up and do as we say." drum, the worse things will become for us. Less attitude (for whatever discreet, often political, reasons), more playing nicely with our fellow classmates. Might just start getting a little of what we want, then. Paul, it's quite simple really. Giving the task of dealing with this issue to a man who by his own admission had "no expertise in" is a display of negligence/incompetence and what with us living in a democracy, we have the right to ask for an explanation as to why things were done incorrectly - Which ultimately should lead to lessening chances of a reoccurrence in the future. If no one complains, it leads to complacency. Natural England used a square peg to fill a round hole!
Paul Boote on 29/10/2013 22:34:52
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Not just N.E., Colin, but all of us. For example, anyone who has held a fishing rod by the thick end, as opposed to the thin end, for, say, 30.8 seconds is a fully paid-up war-gaming Angling Expert now.
itsfishingnotcatching on 31/10/2013 07:07:17
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For example, anyone who has held a fishing rod by the thick end, as opposed to the thin end, for, say, 30.8 seconds is a fully paid-up war-gaming Angling Expert now. Most on here are amateur anglers Paul, and therefore unpaid. This person is paid to do a job and as such should be expected to have the required degree of knowledge, experience and competence to carry out his duties.
Lord Paul of Sheffield on 31/10/2013 08:22:04
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I've no doubt that the seal will draw a few non anglers to the banks, eat the fish stock then move on, unless it somehow is "helped" along by a couple of fed up anglers
mick b on 31/10/2013 08:32:05
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Gentlemen, please let us get our feet back on the ground. We are all agreed that the seal could probably have been captured while it was retained in the lock, and that it could have been returned (relocated) somewhere farther away. The AT did its best to secure the required consents from NE but whatever was said did not satisfy those at NE who make the decisions. Natural England is an agency that has undergone considerable change over the past ten years, many very experienced field scientists have left the agency and replaced with less experienced (cheaper) personnel. These new staff are not 'jobsworths' but graduate scientists trying to do a difficult job under very restrictive circumstances, and who are required to 'work to the book' if they do not possess detailed knowledge of a subject in hand. The issuing of consents for the handling protected species is a minefield of legislation where one mistake can easily lead to charges of professional misconduct, especially with the publicity seeking RSPCA around. What is now clear is that the AT doesn't have the knowledge or expertise to deal with complex situations such as this, and perhaps we are expecting to much to think otherwise? .
Peter Jacobs on 31/10/2013 09:06:54
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The issuing of consents for the handling protected species is a minefield of legislation where one mistake can easily lead to charges of professional misconduct, especially with the publicity seeking RSPCA around. I would agree with that Mick, the only problem I see though is that the Seal does not appear on NE's "Protected species List" [url=http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/ProtectedSpeciesLists_tcm6-25123.pdf][url]http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/ProtectedSpeciesLists_tcm6-25123.pdf I am also not sure in my mind as to the difference between a "jobsworth" and even a degree wielding employee "working to the book" but that is not central to the case in point. I also don't buy the argument that due to people leaving that an agency can be expected to be released from its designated purpose. Whatever the ATr said, or how they made their case, somehow seems to be almost irelevant when said case was made to someone in NE who, by his own admission, knew nothing about the situation, the background or apparently anything else to do with the case. For once I don't think that the Angling Trust are to blame on this one . . . . . . .
mick b on 31/10/2013 13:03:40
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I would agree with that Mick, the only problem I see though is that the Seal does not appear on NE's "Protected species List" [url=http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/ProtectedSpeciesLists_tcm6-25123.pdf][url]http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/ProtectedSpeciesLists_tcm6-25123.pdf I am also not sure in my mind as to the difference between a "jobsworth" and even a degree wielding employee "working to the book" but that is not central to the case in point. I also don't buy the argument that due to people leaving that an agency can be expected to be released from its designated purpose. Whatever the ATr said, or how they made their case, somehow seems to be almost irelevant when said case was made to someone in NE who, by his own admission, knew nothing about the situation, the background or apparently anything else to do with it Peter the NE site is out of date. Ref; UK Seals 'Since 1988 both Grey and Common or Harbour seals have been protected all the year round'. I am not saying they should be released from their statutory duties, which in this case were correctly followed. I maintain that if the AT had been more aware that NE are working on reduced staffing levels, realigned structures and understood the difficulty of finding someone with sufficient knowledge to make a decision on such a specialised subject they would have understood the impossibility of achieving a prompt and favourable response. In all my 20+ years of experience I only once achieved such a decision (from the old English Nature) in under 24 hours and I shudder to think of the string pulling that required.
Paul Boote on 31/10/2013 13:14:21
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Very sound, mick. Are you a Wessex area bailiff? You seem to know about the realities of things now. I used to know your old former colleagues (if you are) at the old Avon & Dorset River Authority, one of them, Doug Newell, a great and well-known flytyer as well as tireless bailiff. The tales he and his fellow bailiffs used to tell me about the difficulty they experienced getting anything done after reporting an issue to the then very patrician aristo head honcho of the outfit, Brayshaw, and his sidekick Grater (men, young as I was, I also knew). Little changes, it's just that these days ideology, State-bashing and rural politics have entered the mix.
cg74 on 31/10/2013 14:32:51
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Peter the NE site is out of date. Ref; UK Seals 'Since 1988 both Grey and Common or Harbour seals have been protected all the year round'. I am not saying they should be released from their statutory duties, which in this case were correctly followed. I maintain that if the AT had been more aware that NE are working on reduced staffing levels, realigned structures and understood the difficulty of finding someone with sufficient knowledge to make a decision on such a specialised subject they would have understood the impossibility of achieving a prompt and favourable response. In all my 20+ years of experience I only once achieved such a decision (from the old English Nature) in under 24 hours and I shudder to think of the string pulling that required. Mick, personally I couldn't give a toss what the staffing situation is or isn't at NE, they gave the task to an under qualified can't think for himself jobsworth! Their error, so they should be brought to account, besides if the 'yes-man' had done a little bit of background research (which he should have) what with him not being suitably qualified! He'd have found out Grey Seals eat about 11lb of fish per day - 4000lb+ of fish per year, is that really sustainable without implications, I think not! To hell with being diplomatic; the ATr should make a formal complaint!
james on 31/10/2013 14:33:21
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Peter the NE site is out of date. Yes, I noticed that. Two main bits of protection spring to mind.. 1. Conservation of Seals Act 1970 (which is why a licence is required to kill / take the seal from the Severn between 1st Sept and 31st December). 2. Habitats Directive Annex 2 listed species. Therefore protected by law in sites where the designated features include grey seal - looks like there are only two such sites in England - Humber Estuary and North Northumberland coast.
binka on 31/10/2013 14:46:22
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I maintain that if the AT had been more aware that NE are working on reduced staffing levels, realigned structures and understood the difficulty of finding someone with sufficient knowledge to make a decision on such a specialised subject they would have understood the impossibility of achieving a prompt and favourable response. So the NE's website is out of date, they've been shown to be dysfunctional on this occasion at least, their own representative has admitted that he had no knowledge of fisheries but it's still somehow the fault of the ATr? :confused: Nah...
cg74 on 31/10/2013 14:55:37
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So the NE's website is out of date, they've been shown to be dysfunctional on this occasion at least, their own representative has admitted that he had no knowledge of fisheries but it's still somehow the fault of the ATr? :confused: Nah... It's not often we agree on matters concerning the ATr but this time I'm wholly in agreement. I think NE need to learn about candor.....
binka on 31/10/2013 15:01:36
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I maintain that if the AT had been more aware that NE are working on reduced staffing levels, realigned structures and understood the difficulty of finding someone with sufficient knowledge to make a decision on such a specialised subject they would have understood the impossibility of achieving a prompt and favourable response. Having read that quote again it begs another question... If the ATr were aware of, as you put it "the impossibility of achieving a prompt and favourable response" then what is that implying? That they wouldn't/shouldn't bother in the first place, in which case the ATr get slated for inaction and the failings by NE go unchallenged and unquestioned, whether they be caused by red tape, under qualified staff or whatever? ---------- Post added at 15:01 ---------- Previous post was at 15:00 ---------- It's not often we agree on matters concerning the ATr but this time I'm wholly in agreement. I think NE need to learn about candor..... What is the world coming to Colin? :D
Peter Jacobs on 31/10/2013 15:27:21
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Ye Gods! So, apart from employing inexperienced and apparently incompetent staff who are allowed to act in an unsupervised environment they cannot even keep their website up to date? Why on earth should we be worried . . . . . . . . You couldn't bloody well make it up, could you?


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