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Seals face cull in bid to save Swedish fish stocks

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Seals face cull in bid to save Swedish fish stocks
Photo: Lars Pehrson/SvD (file)
09:54 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) has ruled that up to 400 seals can be culled along the country's coast in a bid to protect depleting stocks of fish.

The agency has approved the killing of a total of 290 grey seals and 110 harbour seals along the Swedish east coast stretching from Norrbotten in the north to Skåne in the south, and the west coast from Västra Götaland to Halland, according to an agency decision dated April 2nd.

"The seals cause significant damage for the fishing industry every year," the agency concluded in a statement.

The decision signifies an increase of 20 harbour seals and 20 grey seals on previous quotas. 

The harbour seals can only be culled off the west coast.

The cull is permitted from land, ice and boats and will run from April 16th to December 31st. The only requirement for prospective hunters is that they have completed the required training.

According to a 2012 report killing more seals is the the only way to reverse the trend of ever diminishing fish stocks in the Stockholm archipelago.

Sverker Lovén, chairman of Fiskefrämjandet, a fish-promotion association, carried out a detailed investigation into the disappearance of several breeds of fish in the waters outside the capital, most noticeably perch and pike.

He came to the conclusion that if something is not done about the number of seals preying on the fish, there is a good chance they will eventually die out altogether.

”All indications suggest that seals and cormorants are the cause of the collapse of fish stocks. Perch and pike have completely disappeared from some parts of the archipelago,” said Loven told Metro newspaper in 2012.

Another fish species which is under threat is the trout, the report indicated with a recorded decrease of some 90 percent over the past ten years.

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