The growing number of seals along the coast of Sweden can cause problems for the fishing industry, because the seals tend to tear apart fishing equipment and eat caught fish.
The Swedish EPA has for several years allowed for so-called protective hunts of ringed seals, harbour seals and grey seals, which means that hunts can go ahead if the animal population is seen as a threat to humans or livestock.
But in many parts of Sweden, less than half the allocated quota is met, due to a low interest from hunters.
“It's a time-consuming and costly hunt, as for the most part it needs to be done from a boat,” said Nils Mårtenson who is the head of the EPA's game management unit. “In addition, the seals are supposed to be recovered and taken care of but according to EU regulations, no products from seals can be sold.”
The seal population poses a problem for the fishing industry across the country, with grey seals predominantly in Skåne and along the Baltic Sea coast, harbour seals along the West Coast and ringed seals further north.
Seals lack natural predators, and their living environment has improved over the past ten years due to a reduction in the level of environmental toxins finding their way into the water.
Now the government has asked the EPA to look into a licence hunt on grey seals. The difference between this and the protective hunt is that the latter is more strictly regulated, and may only take place within 200 metres of a place where fishing is carried out.
A final decision on the licence hunt will come into force from April and will be in effect until January 31st, 2021.
hunt (noun) — (en) jakt
to hunt — att jaga
seal — (en) säl
time-consuming — tidskrävande
costly — kostsam