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Displaying items by tag: seals

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has confirmed it is investigating the recent discovery of beheaded seals on a Co Kerry beach.

But as TheJournal.ie reports, the situation may not be as sinister as might appear at first glance — with experts saying it’s not unusual for seal carcasses to wash ashore headless by various causes.

The most recent concern was prompted by a report from a woman walking on Banna beach in Co Kerry, where she described happening upon mutilated seal carcasses on the sand.

However, Melanie Croce of Seal Rescue Ireland in Courtown, Co Wexford says that while it does appear the seals in question were beheaded, “this is actually something that we’ve seen for many years and many other rescues see it as well worldwide.

“Unless you’re doing a post-mortem examination, it’s very difficult to determine the cause of death. But, you know, we can’t prove anything either way,” she added.

Seals have become a divisive issue in the South West in recent years.

Earlier this month the Government shot down proposals to allow the culling of seals by rifle in the vicinity of protected areas where local inshore fishermen claim their catch is being depleted by the appetites of seal colonies.

TheJournal.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Local residents have been disturbed by the discovery of decapitated seals on a Co Kerry beach, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Speaking to Kerry Today on Radio Kerry, a local woman described coming upon the grisly scene on Banna beach where a number of seal carcasses lay mutilated.

And she suggested that the heads had been purposefully removed in incidents that were not the result of an animal attack.

The revelation will recall memories of similar seal beheadings in Dingle in the summer of 2012, for which the culprits were never found.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Today’s Sunday Independent reports that Government ministers have shot down proposals for a seal cull by rifle from boats off Cork and Kerry.

Internal emails show that Minister of State Malcolm Noonan rejected the suggestion as being “politically unacceptable”.

And both he and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien shared the view that a compensation scheme for fishermen who say seal predation on fish stocks has harmed their livelihoods “would be a better approach”.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, inshore fishermen in Kerry have argued that the depletion of fishery stocks and damage to nets in and around the Blasket Islands is “unsustainable”.

But suggestions that fishermen be given the green light to cull seals from their vessels with high-powered rifles were branded as “insane” by a conservation expert.

The Sunday Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

One of the most difficult, controversial and upsetting marine environment stories I have reported in my time as a marine correspondent concerns seals. I've seen them rehabilitated by a sanctuary and marvelled at the work put into healing injured, sick seals and releasing them back into the sea. I've seen fishermen provide fish to feed those seals being rehabilitated.

I've also heard fishermen claim, in anger and fury, that their catches were taken from their nets, partially eaten and then discarded useless by seals.

I've seen injured seals and heard allegations by animal welfare groups and environmentalists that fishermen had taken the law into their own hands against protected species.

Under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2018, cetaceans and seals are protected species.

Under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2018, cetaceans and seals are protected speciesSeals are a protected species Photo: Bob Bateman

Dáil debate

In recent weeks the whole issue has come to the fore again, after a Dáil debate when national media reported that licences could be given to fishermen for a cull to shoot seals. There was another outburst of fury, particularly on social media. But what is the truth of this issue?

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Official records show that the State agency responsible for the conservation, protection and management of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling applied three times for licences to shoot seals. A spokesperson for Inland Fisheries Ireland confirmed that it had applied for Section 42 authorisations from the National Parks and Wildlife Service on three occasions in the last 10 years. No application has been made this year. "One seal has been removed under a Section 42 authorisation in the last 10 years for reasons of public safety," the IFI said.

National Inshore Fishermen's Association

The National Inshore Fishermen's Association said there had been "biased reporting by mainstream media" which never interviewed anyone from the inshore fisheries sector. "If you take the time to listen and consider fishermen's complaints, you'll understand there are two separate aspects. The first is the amount of fish seals eat and the impact it has on fish stocks. The second is the economic impact seals have on fishers' livelihoods."

So, for this week's podcast, I spoke to the Secretary of the Inshore Fishermen's Association, Alex Crowley.

Listen to the Podcast here

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

Plans to allow for the culling of seals by fishermen with high-powered rifles have been branded as “insane” by a conservation expert.

According to the Irish Examiner, the Government is looking into the granting of licences that would permit fishermen to shoot seals in order to protect their catches.

The move follows claims by local fishermen in Kerry that seal colonies in the Blasket Islands — a Special Area of Conservation — and elsewhere are largely responsible for depleted fish stocks and damage to nets, a situation which they say is “unsustainable”, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

While a licence for the Blaskets was refused, one of four others this year has been approved, and the rest — across Kerry and Cork — are being considered by Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien.

“There are concerns about this approach to seal management, given the potential safety concerns arising from using high-powered rifles on moving platforms,” the minister said in a written response to Kerry TD Micael Healy-Rae.

"Nonetheless, my department is examining the potential for a pilot scheme which would test this approach and determine its efficacy in protecting fishermen’s catches.”

However, Irish Wildlife Trust’s Pádraic Fogarty said the idea of “shooting seals with rifles from boats is insane”, and suggested that chronic overfishing and bottom trawling have had a greater impact on available catches.

His comments echoed those of the Irish Seal Sanctuary earlier this year. Its co-founder Brendan Price told RTÉ that culling seals by gun is “essentially wasting a bullet, it’s futile”.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Seal Sanctuary has said a seal cull is not the answer to the woes of Dingle Peninsula fishermen, who claim a booming population of the protected marine wildlife is putting their livelihood at risk.

Sanctuary co-founder Brendan Price told RTÉ News that “you’re essentially wasting a bullet, it’s futile” as “an apex predator such as a seal is controlled by the available food source”.

Late last year, inshore fishermen who work around the Blaskets, which is a Special Area of Conservation, blamed the local seal colonies for depleted fish stocks and damage to their nets, arguing the situation was “unsustainable”.

Now the fishermen say they are “at breaking point”, with one claiming that seals actively follow their boats to target their catch.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Depleted fish stocks and damage to nets in and around the Blaskets are “unsustainable”, argue local fishermen who have called for a cull of the area’s seal population, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The inshore fishermen allege that colonies of grey and common seals in the Blaskets — both protected marine wildlife species in the EU and within a Special Area of Conservation — are responsible for depleted pollock stocks, among others, which it is said is forcing smaller fishermen out of the industry over winter or even permanently.

Fisherman Adam Flannery told a public meeting in Dingle before Christmas: “We are looking for a cull. Because if we do not get a cull in six to eight months, within a few years there won’t be any inshore boat in Dingle.”

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Science

Leitrim angler Bernard Kilkenny claimed the World Cup in trout fly angling on Lough Mask last weekend, as Derek Evans notes in today’s Irish Times.

His five trout at 5.73lb secured the title — as well as a boat with 15HP outboard, and a new rod and reel — in what was “the most drawn-out in the 63 years of the championships”, with poor weather meaning three attempts over a whole month were required.

Elsewhere, two anglers caused a headache for marine wildlife lovers in Wicklow yesterday (Sunday 8 September) when they were spotted fishing just meters from a protected seal colony.

According to Wicklow News, the men had ignored signs warning away from the seals, as well as the pleas of several onlookers, but left the area after they were spoken to by gardaí.

It is recommended that the public stay at least 100 metres away from seals as they enter their breeding season and seek safe space on land from September to the end of the year.

Published in Angling

#MarineWildlife - Islanders’ attempts to rescue a seal pup stranded on Achill in Co Mayo recently were sadly not successful.

But the incident has galvanised a local group set up amid growing concerns over marine wildlife strandings, who will train with a team from Seal Rescue Ireland in January on potential lifesaving measures, as the Mayo News reports.

“We’re getting these trainers down just so people know what to do in these situations,” said Achill resident Sorsha Kennedy. “It’s okay for them to be on the shore, they may just be resting, but people don’t know that.”

Kennedy was part of a group that attempted to rescue a baby seal washed up on rocks at Keel Beach in late November.

The pup unfortunately died in transit to Seal Rescue Ireland’s base across the country in Courtown.

“It’s a terribly long stressful journey for an animal already in distress,“ said John Nikolai, who discovered the seal while walking his dog. “It’s such a pity there isn’t another sanctuary closer in the west.”

The Mayo News has more on the story, while Afloat.ie reported recently on other seal rescue efforts around the Irish coast.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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