Broads anglers give their views on the zander debate

Roy WebsterIf a campaign to re-classify the alien zander as native species in England and Wales succeeds would this fish be acceptable in the Norfolk Broads? Should the initiative in the Fens towards removing the popular predator from Natural England's expanse of Flora and Fauna that are not allowed under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to flourish in this country is ever be granted by new legislation, it is inevitable that zander could be introduced by one means or another in the East Norfolk Broads and rivers.Roy Webster

If a campaign to re-classify the alien zander as native species in England and Wales succeeds would this fish be acceptable in the Norfolk Broads?

Should the initiative in the Fens towards removing the popular predator from Natural England's expanse of Flora and Fauna that are not allowed under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to flourish in this country is ever be granted by new legislation, it is inevitable that zander could be introduced by one means or another in the East Norfolk Broads and rivers.

In recent years, one authenticated zander of 6lb has been caught on rod and line from the River Yare.

Before that a brace were reeled in from the Costessey Pits. The Costessey fish were disposed of while the river specimen was returned alive.


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However, there was substantial evidence that zander over 2lbs have been taken which suggests that someone had undertaken their own but unlawful stocking programme.

So, would Broads anglers welcome this voracious predator as an addition to or even a direct competitor of the indigenous pike and perch?

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Some Broads pike fishermen including angling guide John Watson have suggested that zander would most certainly represent an added interest to Broads predator fishing.

That is a view not shared by Caister on Sea's Broads pike record holder John Goble whose river Thurne monster turned the scales to 45lb 8oz at the tail end of last season.

'What with summer boat traffic, autumn and winter salt water tides I think our Broads pike that are still recovering from the fish killer algae disaster have enough to cope with, and another predatory species in direct competition would not be acceptable or even advisable,' he declared. If I wanted a day's Zander fishing I would visit the Fens and buy a permit.'

The Norwich & District Pike Club chairman, Stephen Roberts, echoed that view.

'I can state that my club members would not want zander in the Broads at present,' he said.

'We have a perfect balance between predator and prey fish and the introduction of zander would be only of nuisance value. We say keep zander out of the Broads, they are not desirable and would only interfere with our present species,'

Another banned alien fish is the wels catfish of which a number have been caught from the Norfolk Broads.

A giant 38-pounder turned up in an eel net on Ranworth Broad and another of 22lb 8oz was caught on rod and line from the River Thurne.

A source of catfish in the Broads is believed to be small ornamental pond fish which outgrew their habitat and their owners believed the humane solution was to turn them loose in the nearest river.

The significant difference is that licences have been issued by Natural England allowing some commercial fisheries to take in unwanted catfish.

Cobbleacre Fishery in north Norfolk has the licence and any catfish caught from the Broads can be transported there alive.

No water in England and Wales so far has been granted a licence to stock zander but, negotiations are under thought to be under way that could change this.

t Norfolk's angling MBE John Wilson is demanding a unremitting national cull of cormorants following his calculation that the annual toll of small roach devoured by the hungry hordes of fish-eating predators is in the region of 46 million per annum.

The television fishing presenter and prolific author of angling books insists that his calculations are impeccably based on bird protection organisations' numbers that 8,000 breeding pairs of cormorants and also their surviving fledglings forage on our inland waters.

And those estimates suggest that around 20,000 cormorants are consuming on average 1.8 lb fish per day each.

In an excerpt from his latest publication, My Way, Wilson suggests that every employee of the Environment Agency should be handed a shotgun and several boxes of cartridges and immediately get to work on a major national culling expedition.

At present, cormorants are allowed to be shot by Defra licence and in east Norfolk at least there appear to be fewer cormorants fishing than a decade ago.

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