The protected seals have been getting into the River Quoile in Co Down, allegedly by way of a damaged fish pass, and decimating the area's fish stocks - much to the consternation of local anglers.
Earlier this week Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín confirmed in a response to a question from Green Party MLA Steven Agnew that department officials have requested the Rivers Agency to carry out repairs on the fish pass.
But she also said that no action can be taken to remove seals from the river "without the approval of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency", adding that her department "does not have the specialist knowledge and equipment to remove the seals".
A Green Party spokesperson described the repair work as "absolutely vital because even if the seals are safely removed from the Quoile they will only make their way back in if the fish pass is not repaired.
"And a rather worrying consideration is that a very small rogue element would be prepared to shoot the seals if a solution is not forthcoming.”
Seal shootings have been much in the news as of late, with gardaí in Waterford investigating attacks on four animals in Tramore.