Virus Underlines Need For Seal Management –

Virus Underlines Need For Seal Management Fishing Monthly Published:  04 October, 2002

SEALS deaths from a virus underline the need to look again at the case for a for seal management to conserve fish stocks, according to a fishermen’s grouping.

The Fishermen’s Association said the British government has established a £250,000 project to find out more about the phocine distemper virus which has killed thousands of seals across northern Europe and which has now reached Britain.

But what should be seriously considered is the contentious issue of introducing a seal management plan as another means to ensure that white fish stocks are given an opportunity to recover NOT the draconian measure proposed by the Commission to further reduce the EU fleet by more than half.

In 1993 using the most conservative method for estimating the all age population there were not less than 100,000 grey seals with at least 90,000 belonging to colonies breeding in the Scottish area. A 6% per annum increase produces approximately 170,000 animals at present with 153,000 in the Scottish area – a staggering 70% increase in nine years.

“ These predators consume or destroy far in excess of what Scottish fishermen are allowed to land. In the mid 1980’s, the cod disappeared from the North Norway fishery. At the same time a similar explosion of the seal population invaded these waters.”

The Norwegians realised that a drastic solution was required to the severe problems being experienced with its cod resource. One of the ways was to introduce a seal cull to deal with the heavy invasions they were experiencing. This was successful.