Wednesday, 22 July 2015

South Australia to use explosives to scare seals away from fishing areas

A huge rise in the population of long-nosed fur seals has led to calls for a cull, but also non-lethal deterrents to keep the marine mammals away

Wednesday 22 July 2015 07.02 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 22 July 201507.03 BST

The South Australian government will use explosives to scare fur seals away from fishing areas, after rejecting a call to start killing the animals.

The number of long-nosed, or New Zealand, fur seals around Coorong has soared in recent years to about 100,000. The seals, which are found along southern Australia and New Zealand, have irked fishing crews by eating their catches and ripping holes in their nets.

A South Australian Liberal MP has put forward a private member’s bill to enable the shooting of the seals to reduce their numbers, a move backed by some fishers.

But the state government has rejected this idea, instead investing $100,000 in “humane, non-lethal deterrents” such as underwater explosives called “seal scarers”.

Manufacturers of seal scarers say the devices are extremely unpleasant for seals but do not affect fish.

The explosives are placed near fishing crews and their nets and are aimed at frightening seals so they don’t plunder the fishers’ catch or damage their nets.

The money will also be used to research new fishing equipment and practices to alleviate the problem.

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