Depredation by seals leads to significant economic costs from loss of commercial catch, increased gear handling or gear damage. ABPmer has been appointed to improve understanding of how seals interact with commercial fisheries and review options for non-lethal deterrents.
To help improve regulatory advice, ABPmer has been appointed by Defra and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to improve understanding of how seals interact with commercial fisheries and review options for non-lethal measures to deter seals from taking catches.
Depredation is an issue for static net fisheries throughout English waters, and particularly the south west, north east and east. This leads to significant economic costs from loss of commercial catch, increased gear handling or gear damage.
Suzannah Walmsley, Fisheries Business Manager at ABPmer said:
“Current regulatory advice is that prior to shooting, all non-lethal deterrent methods should be tried, but effective non-lethal seal deterrent alternatives to shooting do not currently exist for application from fishing vessels in open water”.
“This study will help extend regulator knowledge and understanding of the seal depredation issue in English fisheries and will allow the MMO to provide fishermen with robust practical advice on how to deter seals using non-lethal methods”.
ABPmer is working with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) and will be asking commercial fisherman to share their experiences on interactions with seals including the gear types, the fish species taken, the proportion of catches that have been affected and whether the problem occurs more frequently in particular locations or at certain times of the year.
Following the data gathering exercise, ABPmer will review non-lethal measures, gear modifications and fishing tactics currently available to reduce seal depredation and bycatch for static net fisheries. 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.
ABPmer is a recognised specialist in fisheries and marine conservation, policy and management, socio-economic impact assessment, planning and licensing for aquaculture, and seafood trade and value-chain analysis.
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