Since in 1980s, the number of great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis) has increased all over its European distribution area. This has led to conflicts between bird conservation and fisheries. Mariager fjord in Denmark is an important feeding and transition area for a large population of migrating seatrout (Salmo trutta), but it also provides resting and breeding places for cormorants. Thus, juvenile anadromous salmonids migrating from the river to the sea may be exposed to high predation risk during a critical and vulnerable time in their development. A total of 31 123 down-migrating wild seatrout were tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags in 2008, 2009, 2015, and 2016 in river Villestrup, the main tributary flowing into Mariager fjord. Tagged fish were measured and grouped by their developmental stage as parr, pre-smolt, or smolt. To quantify cormorant predation, nearby cormorant colonies and roosting sites were repeatedly scanned for PIT tags with a manual antenna to record tags from predated fish. Minimum predation rate was 27% but varied among years. Body length of the fish and predation risk were negatively correlated and the latter was dependent on the group of the fish. This study demonstrates a potential negative effect of predation by great cormorants on an important population of wild trout.
- Brown trout
- Great cormorant