The Angling Trust has vowed to continue to press the government to take action after a petition calling for the non-lethal control of otters was dismissed last week.

The 11,000-strong petition from the Barbel Society led to the government firmly ruling out the prospect of any controls on numbers because they are a protected species, while acknowledging the impact they have on fish populations.

The Trust's chief executive, Mark Lloyd, has confirmed he will meet with his counterpart at Natural England to end unregulated release of the animal back into the wild, despite not being consulted on the worded of the petition.

"The government’s rejection of this petition was entirely predictable and it, along with many of the comments about it on social media, will have damaged the reputation of angling in the eyes of the public and politicians," he said.

"We very much regret that the Barbel Society acted without any consultation with ourselves or any other organisation with expertise in fishery management or political lobbying. We were consequently unable to support the petition. Even the most pro-angling MP in parliament told us that the petition would achieve nothing.

"However, despite this obvious setback we will do our best to convince decision makers that the return of otters in such large numbers is having a detrimental impact on a number of rivers and stillwaters and we will continue to work with others to try to limit any damage through sensible and practical measures which will not damage the reputation of angling in the public eye."

In his letter to Natural England, Mr Lloyd wrote: "There are also concerns that they are released into territories already occupied by wild otters which could lead to greater pressure on fisheries and also a greater likelihood of fighting between animals.

"There is currently no stakeholder consultation about where they are subsequently released back in to the wild. "We understand that some are kept in adverse conditions e.g. ‘hobby zoos’ and believe that regulation of this sector is much needed."