Seals & Fishing

The IWT believes that calls to cull seals should be resisted.  Irish waters are now over-fished and the marine ecosystem has been severely damaged due to trawling and other commercial fishing practices.  This long-term damage is the cause of dwindling fish stocks and culling seals, a European protected species, should not be used as a scapegoat for these problems.  There is no doubt that individual seals can damage fishing gear and cause hardship. This should be addressed through developing seal-proof gear.

It may also be true that seals populations have grown in recent years.  However this is most likely to be the result of legal protection since the 1970′s – prior to which there was culling and hunting of seals at least since medieval times (see Jim Mac Laughlin’s ‘Troubled Waters’, Four Courts Press 2010).  During this time seal numbers were probably kept at artificially low levels.  There should be plenty of fish in the sea for man and wildlife alike and addressing the causes of over-fishing is much more likely to benefit both.

Killing seals is against the law and the IWT calls on all instances of suspected wildlife crime to be reported to the Gardaí and the local NPWS ranger.

If you find a dead seal, please report it to the Irish Seal Sanctuary with a photo if at all possible.  If you are suspicious that it has been shot, some close-up photos of the wounds would be helpful. Please e-mail reports to