Micheal Greaves sets out to answer a question many have been asking.

Those who walk over the Millennium Bridge to either stroll around the Green or make their way to school or the shops will notice something missing. All the fish in the River Yeo have disappeared.

A chance discussion with a fisherman on Christmas Eve, provided the answer. The River Yeo has been over fished on a massive scale. Nothing to do with Brexit or the EU quotas but cormorants. These large black birds with a formidable beak and the ability to swim under water have cleaned out the river.

According to my well-informed friend the same problem happened some 10 years ago. Cormorants are not native to the UK but have been experiencing a population explosion over the last 20 years. They are formidable hunters and five cormorants can eat a ton of fish a year. They each need to catch around 2 lbs of fish a day.

Over the last 10 years the fish stock has been recovering thanks to the quality of the water and the balance of nature being restored. This has encouraged kingfishers, little egrets and our native grey heron to become regular sights. Some people have also reported seeing otters.

But, the cormorants have returned with a vengeance. They work the river seven days a week and have taken all the breeding silver fish such as roach, gudgeon, bream, perch, dace and tench. With the numbers being reduced the cormorants are attacking the large fish including pike, eels and trout. Even if they cannot kill the fish they leave them with mortal injuries.

With no breeding fish in the river it will take at least 10 years to recover when it is assumed the cycle will happen again. Cormorants are protected birds so there is little that can be done to reduce or control their numbers.

Fish are an important part of the ecological balance of nature. Apart from providing food for other birds and animals they themselves eat weed and insects and help to keep the river water clean. Sorry to start the New Year on such a down beat note, but you may have wondered where the fish had gone.

I haven’t seen the ducks recently, does anyone know what might have happened to them ?