Dear Editor,

‘Primarily the aim of this response is to promote our need to coexist sustainably with nature and wildlife for social, environmental and economic reasons now and into the future.

As the article stated around 40% of the global population of grey seals are found in UK waters, which make our coastline a critical habitat for this globally rare species. Grey seals are a very mobile species and due to rapid changes in their natural habitats from anthropogenic (human activity) impact they have a need to continuously seek new safe refuge. Grey seals are intelligent marine mammals who have no control over their environment so are forced to adapt to survive. If fish move, seals have to follow them. Any perceived increase in the local population in South Devon is not reflective of national population changes. Seals from here have also been identified in Dorset and N Cornwall. One adult female from S Devon is known to have returned from a site over 300km away in just 3 days! These are amazing creatures that deserve our care and respect.

Any positive or negative changes in catch rates by commercial fishers arise from many interacting factors – natural and human. Fish stocks have been depleted largely by commercial fishers not seals, who have coexisted and evolved with fish for millennia. The primary driver for this change is our ability to fish more effectively and less sustainably. Sadly gill nets kill and injure hundreds of seals, dolphins and other species every year through entanglement and bycatch for which we have the second highest rate for any phocid seal species anywhere in the world.

We all need to learn to share our seas more successfully if we are to survive as a species.

In addition to the inaccuracies represented in this article the image of the damaged net is a historical rather than recent one, used in a previous article printed by Fishing News on 16th April 2020, an article written by the same authors. The image included in this article of grey seals resting is not of Torquay harbour as stated in the article.’

Regards

Duncan

 

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Statement in response to article: Torquay fisherman highlights heartbreak and frustration of seal predation

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