Conservationists call for firearm ban on fishing boats after seal shootings
The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Humane Society International today joined forces to call for a ban on guns on fishing boats used to shoot protected wildlife and for mitigation measures in trawl nets to prevent ‘accidental’ seal bycatch.
Craig Bohm, National Fisheries Campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society said, “All Australians would be appalled by the slaughter of 40 protected fur seals in Bass Strait this week. The Australian Government should finally ban guns on boats and stop this senseless killing of our protected marine life.”
Nicola Beynon, Wildlife and Habitats Program Manager with the Humane Society International said, “Unfortunately, the shooting of 40 seals this week is not a one-off incident. There are regular reports of seal shootings by Australian fishermen. However, these incidences are rarely witnessed so that they can be prosecuted. The solution is to ban guns on boats”.
“It is not only guns that kill seals. Hundreds of fur seals are also drowned in trawl nets of south eastern Australia each year. Seals are listed protected species and it is unacceptable that fisheries continue to so openly slaughter so many of them each year” said Craig Bohm.
The Australian Action Plan for Australian Seals1 identifies that the major problem for seals in the waters of mainland Australia is conflict with fisheries. Seals chase the trawl boats seeking a free feed from within the fish nets and from the discarded bycatch. The seals get caught in the nets and drown.
Ms Beynon continued, “We are calling on the Australian Government to continue to develop ‘seal excluder devices’ for trawl nets to allow seals to escape unharmed. The killing has been going on for many years even though we have listed seals as protected species. We are failing in our duty of care for these creatures.”
Bohm concluded, “Clearly current fisheries management approaches are failing Australia’s protected fur seals. The public is rightly appalled at the deliberate shootings this week. They will be even more appalled to realise hundreds of seals are routinely killed in our fisheries every year. The Australian Government needs to take tougher action”.