The seal population in the Baltic Sea could be up to 50,000 individuals
It has been estimated that the seal population in the Baltic Sea is somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 seals according to Thomas Thomsen, chairman of the Bornholm and Christiansø Fisheries Association.
He also estimates that the population of seals in the North Sea is something similar with several thousand more in inland waters.
In a report from the Danish Fisheries Association claims the seals are becoming a problem for fishermen and for local fish populations.
“They eat the catch and infect the cod with liverworms and parasites. So even though it looks cute and adorable, it is crucial that the predator is regulated. The Environmental Protection Agency has just released a new seal management plan. There are good points, but unfortunately no one dares to grasp the root of the needle,” says the Association.
“There are between 40,000 and 50,000 seals, but only problem seals and 40 seals in the Bornholm scheme must be regulated. It’s a drop in the ocean, so the problem with the seal will still grow. In the big picture it does not work. It requires more effort,” says Thomas Thomsen, chairman of the Bornholm and Christiansø Fisheries Association.
The new management plan makes it easier to get permission to shoot the seals. Of course it welcomes the fishermen, but the scope is small. If the problem is to be resolved, the seals should be regulated as low as 10,000 – this should be more than enough to ensure that the seal is not threatened. It will require an international effort across the Baltic Sea countries to bring the seals into balance with the rest of nature.
Bornholm hit hard
For it is especially in the Baltic Sea that seals pose a problem. There are major challenges here, the cod stock is hard to include. the fishermen on Bornholm.
“The cod ratio for 2020 was reduced by 92 per cent, and that does not promise well for 2021. I have no doubt that the seal is the cause of the major problems that we see. Especially east of Bornholm the fish are infected with liver worms, which come from the seals. It is a disaster for Bornholm fishing. It just shows how bad it is when the fishermen can’t get a daily wage and make it financially linked, says Thomas Thomsen, who has repeatedly raised the problem:
“It is at least 10 years ago when we started shouting out loud that something had to be done in relation to the distribution of the seals, so that there is room for fish, fishermen and seals. After all, the number of seals has exploded!”
The problem spreads along the coast
And the Bornholmers certainly do not stand alone with the concern. In the rest of the Danish waters, seals have also been observed. More and more, and fishermen are noticing that it has become more difficult to fish with passive gear close to shore. Yarn needs to go farther and farther before it is profitable to fish. Therefore, the problem of the many happy seals around the Danish coasts must also be addressed. Otherwise, there will be no coastal fishing left. A fishery that is otherwise high on the political agenda.
“Commercial fisheries must shout loudly and demand that something be done about the seals along the North Sea coast. Otherwise, the coastal fishery, as we know it, ends up becoming extinct. For fishermen, they need to go further and further with their tools to catch something,” says Jesper Juul Larsen, chairman of the Southwest Fisheries Association, who is certainly not impressed by the new management plan for seals.
“It is a bit worse hypocrisy that you put a camera on the fishermen who catch a few kilos of cod on a trip when you have seals that eat thousands of cod. It is not known exactly how many fish the seals eat. But it is very important to know where the fishermen catch a few cod. It is also not intended to do anything real about the seals. Only problem seals and the 40 seals around Bornholm can be shot. The only change is that it has become a little easier to apply to shoot them,” says Jesper Juul Larsen.
Source: Danish Fisheries Association