The claims were made by the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) in a press release entitled Don’t kill the cormorants.

But the Angling Trust, which campaigns for the protection of fisheries from predation by cormorants, said the claims were “ridiculous”.

In February, the Trust published a paper about the damage done by both cormorants and goosanders to freshwater fish stocks.

Mark Owen, the Trust’s freshwater campaigns manager, said: “We published a 10,000- word dossier highlighting the massive damage that cormorants and goosanders have done to freshwater fisheries and how their numbers have risen to plague proportions.

The idea that these predators are not a problem is patently ridiculous.”

In the past, the RSPB and IFM have both admitted that licensed culling of cormorants was an option where other alternatives of limiting predation had been exhausted and where the birds were present in large numbers.

The IFM told Angling Times that the reports of a decline in cormorant numbers came from the RSPB and was the “considered view of fisheries professionals” but refused to divulge who they were.

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Anglers’ fury over call to stop culling cormorants