INTERACTIONS BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICAN FUR SEALS and THE PURSE-SEINE FISHERY

Authors


Abstract

Operational interactions occur between South African (Cape) fur seals and the purse-seine fishery in South Africa. Seals eat fish from the nets but the main concern is the activity of seals causing fish to sound, resulting in loss, or partial loss of the catch. Detectable loss occurs on approximately 5% of hauls. In addition to this, smaller quantities may be lost on each haul as seals depress the net float line while moving into and out of the net. The cost of seal interference is difficult to quantify because the mass of fish lost is not known, and the loss is essentially one of additional fishing time required to fill the total allowable catch for the fishery. An estimate of the cost is calculated as between 1.6% and 4.1% of the landed value of the fishery. Some seals are killed by fishermen when they pose a potential threat to the safety of the crew aboard, and some may drown if caught in the net or pump. Overall this is probably fewer than a thousand seals per year. It is also known that if seals are thought to be disturbing the fish, these seals near the nets may be deliberately killed by purse-seine fishermen. Overall this mortality, whether deliberate or incidental, is probably negligible in terms of the population size of South African fur seals.

Ancillary