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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 22 Feb 1995

Vol. 449 No. 5

Written Answers. - Seal Population.

Micheál Martin


50 Mr. Martin asked the Minister for the Marine the proposals, if any, he has to determine the population level of seals; and in view of the 1976 law protecting them, the effects, if any, this law is having on fish stocks generally. [3955/95]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a joint proposal for research funding under the Commission's Air Programme is being prepared in consultation with marine mammal biologists in Ireland, the UK, Denmark and Sweden.

It is envisaged that a population survey of seals around our coasts will form a critical element of the work planned under the proposal. In addition the study will examine migratory patterns and assess the level of seal interaction with fisheries and the socio-economic implications of such interactions. Preparations for field observations on the migratory patterns of seals have already been initiated.

If the proposal is supported by the commission it is expected that work on the study could begin later this year. The multinational scope of the proposal and the transnational make up of the participants reflects the reality that seal populations are a North Atlantic phenomenon rather than an Irish or UK issue.

As the Deputy will understand therefore until the level of seal population around our coasts have been assessed, it would be very difficult to estimate the effect which the statutory protection of seals under the Wildlife Act might have in terms of fish stocks.

I should, however, bring to the Deputy's attention the fact that under section 42 of the Wildlife Act, permits may be granted in order to capture, kill or otherwise control protected wild animals which cause damage. The granting of permits is administered by the Office of Public Works in consultation with the Garda and other Departments. I understand that where a genuine need for such measures exists the relevant authorities will look sympathetically on requests for such permits.