Minister Darragh O’Brien has distanced himself from reports of a pilot scheme to cull individual problem seals
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, TD has distanced himself from an article in last Sunday’s Irish Examiner which linked him with a potential pilot scheme to “cull individual problem seals”.
In a tweet the Minister said:
“For the avoidance of any doubt my Department has absolutely no plans for a general cull of seals as stated in the PQ response of Sept 15th & 23rd & I would not sign off on any pilot scheme which would involve fishermen shooting seals from a boat.
“I accept fishermen in a number of coastal areas have concerns & that’s why a small number of Section 42 licences have been granted over the years.
“There may be a need for innovative solutions but that does not involve a general cull or controlled pilot cull of seals which are protected under the EU Habitats Directive.”
Malcolm Noonan, Green Party TD for Carlow/Kilkenny and Minister of State for Heritage & Electoral Reform says that he will not sign off on any pilot scheme which would involve a seal cull.
The Minister of State was reacting to the article in the Irish Examiner.
The article has led to a public outcry from Greens and environmentalists who have blamed fishing methods for the decline of fish stocks in the Irish inshore sector with Noonan going as far as to blame supertrawlers.
Supertrawlers are defined by Greenpeace as fishing vessels over 100 metres. The majority of supertrawlers in the EU are owned by Dutch based companies Parlevliet & Van der Plas, who own the 142 metre Margiris amongst its fleet, and Cornelis Vrolijk who owns the 119 metre Frank Bonefaas. These companies are members of the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA) but do not have any ships registered in Ireland.
Pádraic Fogarty from the Irish Wildlife Trust has blamed local fishing methods for the shortage of fish stocks claiming, “Fish populations have collapsed around our coastline from bottom trawling in particular.”
On Twitter, Malcolm Noonan said:
“NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Services) has no plans for a general cull of seals, as stated clearly in the PQ response of Sept 15/23rd by my colleague @DarraghOBrienTD I will not sign off on any pilot scheme which would involve fishermen shooting seals from boats. Nor would @npwsBioData
“I acknowledge that fishermen in a number of coastal areas have concerns and that’s why a small number of section 42 licences have been granted over the years by NPWS.
“There are more ecological, humane and innovative solutions that do not involve a cull of seals which are protected under the EU Habitats Directive.
“There is evidence that suggests that seals have very little impact on Irish fish resources and we need to consider the role of super trawlers and fishing at lower trophic levels on the fish stocks.”