Assessing options for non-lethal seal deterrents

Improving understanding of non-lethal deterrents from fishing vessels

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) contracted ABPmer to improve understanding of non-lethal deterrent methods suitable for control of seals from fishing vessels, helping prevent catch depredation.

This will help improve the specificity of the MMO's advice in their work to conserve protected species, enable sustainable marine fishing activity and reduce conflict.

The specific aims of the study were to:

  • Review what non-lethal measures, gear modifications or fishing tactics are currently available to reduce seal depredation and bycatch for static net fisheries at sea;
  • Clarify what impacts may result to the fishing industry, managers and seals of using such non-lethal deterrents;
  • Field test the most promising deterrent approaches.

ABPmer contributed to a literature review, data review and survey of UK fishing interests to provide baseline information on which to design field trials. Possible approaches and locations of field trials were agreed with the Project Steering Group to determine the most promising deterrent methods and locations for the trials.

Field trials were carried out with participating fishers by implementing control (current practice) and test (implementation of the non-lethal deterrent measure) fishing operations in parallel, with data collection undertaken by participating fishers. Statistical analysis was undertaken to determine the significance of any effects of the non-lethal deterrent measures tested in the field trials, and advice provided to the MMO on the appropriateness of non-lethal seal deterrents.

The results of the trials were published in a report by the MMO.

Download the report at GOV.UK.

ABPmer supports policy-makers, regulators and the fisheries and aquaculture industry on marine environmental policy matters, assessment and management, including interactions between fisheries, marine protected areas (MPAs) and other marine developments.

Photo credit: Andrew Pearson