Pärnu fishermen want more effective restrictions on seals, cormorants

Fishermen in Pärnu.
Fishermen in Pärnu. Source: ERR

Fishing restrictions are once again being discussed, but fishermen in Pärnu point out that cormorants and seals catch as many as much as they do. The environment ministry plans to take action.

Studies show approximately 40 percent of coastal fish stocks are in good condition, and even fishermen admit they need to be protected.

Fishermen are not against reasonable fishing restrictions the Association of Small Islands CEO Ingvar Saare told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

"[We are] certainly not opposed to an increase in the minimum size for perch, for example, which is the most important industrial fish," he said.

Saare said natural predators catch as many fish as professionals.

"Fishermen can see for themselves, and science confirms it, that cormorants and seals actually eat the same fish and in very large quantities. Unfortunately, the seals and cormorants could not be brought to the table to be questioned. It seems it was easier with fishermen," Saare said.

Professional fisherman Tarmo Luks told AK the rules should be changed.

"Our neighboring countries have much more effective means of limiting seal numbers, but we are held back by hunting laws. We can't control the seal population as much as we need to," he said.

Herki Tuus, head of the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of the Environment, said they agree with the fishermen over cormorants and seals. 

The birds were driven away from the best fish spawning areas last year, he said, and oiling eggs in cormorant colonies would limit their numbers.

"Actually, the cormorant working group will meet in the autumn and should review the activities for the coming year: where, how much and what could be done through oiling or deterrence," he told AK.

Speaking about seals, Tuus said something should also be done as they can break nets and steal fish which causes a lot of damage.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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