Fishermen join project to protect seals

A new project is underway in parts of the UK  to help improve advice on ways to prevent seals from taking fish catches.

Seals eat catches from fishing gear in areas throughout British waters, particularly in the south west, north east and east of England. This, say fishermen,  is costly to the industry both in terms of loss of catch but also in damaged gear.
ABPmer, a marine consultancy based on the south coast, is now working with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) to gain an up-to-date understanding of the issue, and to identify and trial possible seal deterrents with the fishing industry.
Suzannah Walmsley, the ABPmer  project manager, said; “Current government advice is that other deterrents must be tried before shooting. However, when you’re on a fishing vessel in open water, alternative viable options are limited.”
“We would like as many fishermen as possible to complete our online survey about their experiences of interactions with seals, whether they experience an issue or not.”
She added: “We want to know about the extent of the problem, the impact on the fishing industry, and any experiences with or ideas about possible seal deterrent options. There is even the chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher for completing the survey!”
Following the data gathering exercise, ABPmer will review non-lethal measures, gear modifications and fishing tactics currently available to reduce seal interactions. Field tests of the most promising non-lethal deterrent options will then be undertaken within one or more of the fisheries where seal interactions are a significant issue.
The project is being implemented by ABPmer and NFFO for Defra and the Marine Management Organisation. The NFFO is urging fishermen who want to get involved to take its on-line survey or to register interest they can contact l Suzannah Walmsley by e-mai or phone on or 02380 711 858.


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