New opportunities for seal hunting

22 December, 2021

The government makes it possible to introduce licence hunting for both grey seals and humpback seals.

“This is about protecting fish stocks and coastal fishing,” says Minister for Rural Affairs Anna-Caren Sätherberg.

The Government has decided on amendments to the Hunting Ordinance that enable the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to grant licence hunting of grey seals and humpback seals.

Previous license hunting has only included grey seals.

The new rules are introduced to protect declining fish stocks and fishermen.

The number of seals is growing steadily

In most places in Sweden, seal populations are growing. In 2019, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management estimated that there were between 37,000-50,000 grey seals in the Baltic Sea and 22,000 humpback seals in the Skagerrak and Kattegat.

Fishermen have long pointed out the problems of seals not only eating the fish, but also destroying fishermen’s gear and taking caught fish from the gear.

In addition, says Anna-Caren Sätherberg, the seal has a parasite that is not good for cod stocks.

Previously only culling

It is already possible for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to introduce license hunting of grey seals. This year, 2,000 animals were shot as part of licence hunting.

When it comes to humpback seals, it has previously only been possible for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to decide on culling that is regulated to areas where seals have destroyed fishing gear or in the vicinity of fish farms.

The Minister for Rural Affairs explains the need for licence hunting by saying that it can better protect sensitive fish stocks as it is not limited to areas where fishermen are affected.

“Where we decide that there is not enough sustainable fishing, there is no quota. At the same time, the seals are there and then the fish stocks do not grow. License hunting allows us to grow fish stocks in several places.

TT: Why don’t you decide to fish less to conserve fish stocks?

“The quotas have decreased because of the fish stocks. What license hunting also does is that you can hunt where it is not fished.

The amendment will enter into force on 1 February 2022.

Text: Tea Oscarsson/TT
Photo: Lars Pehrson/TT

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