I have no direct function in relation to seals which are a protected species under the terms of the wildlife Acts administered by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. The Marine Institute and BIM, in association with the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, and my Department are involved in examining the impact of predators on fish stocks and undertake studies as necessary to assess such impacts.
BIM's report, to which the Deputy refers, assessed the extent of seal predation on inshore gillnet fisheries in Irish coastal waters. The results of this study pointed to the need to carry out further research. Additional research work is being undertaken at present by UCD, under the aegis of BIM, and a draft report is at present being finalised.
This further research will help us to quantify more precisely the extent of seal predation on fish stocks which is of genuine and growing concern to inshore fishermen and salmon farmers around the coast.