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Author Topic: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored  (Read 6764 times)

swimmingwiththefishes

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Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« on: November 09, 2015, 12:10:14 PM »

hey guys,

As much as I enjoy the FF issue, and believe it to be an issue that should be discussed regularly, I think it has also taken over the debate at times.

I've included a couple of interesting links here to get this discussion going because I think our wild salmon/steelhead advocacy needs to be considering the Harbour Seal explosion that has occurred over the last two decades. Especially as I believe ongoing research will show, that Seals eat large numbers of Salmon/Steelhead Smolts and of course perhaps equally important, eat vast amounts of herring.  It seems silly to be putting in all this effort into habitat and hatcheries and also ignoring this.

The first link from a conference on the Skagit Steelhead really got me thinking about this. There is also some interesting research being done by the PSC. See below.

Conference presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNcRwz3F0h4

Current PSC research project
https://www.psf.ca/blog/seal-beanies-reach-milestone

DFO Population Assessment
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/338997.pdf

Thoughts???
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69Charger

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 02:18:52 PM »

My thoughts are that the commercial fisheries, poachers take way too much, and pollution impacts. The human population is the biggest impact on fish. Seals have an impact but not anywhere near the biggest.
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chris gadsden

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 03:25:29 PM »

My thoughts are that the commercial fisheries, poachers take way too much, and pollution impacts. The human population is the biggest impact on fish. Seals have an impact but not anywhere near the biggest.
And don't foget the FF too.  :-X

Dave

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 04:19:44 PM »

And don't foget the FF too.  :-X
Chris, that’s a weak response to a serious issue raised by swimmingwiththefishes.
There is no doubt seals are a concern regarding salmon mortalities. I’ve seen firsthand how Fraser River seals are habituated to the Albion chinook test fishery; often they would get more chinooks than we samplers, and I have had many, many sockeye taken by seals while sampling sockeye from chartered gill netters. These seals are like trained dogs; the boats leave the docks and the seals leave their log booms to get lunch.  Their ability to remove fish from a drifting gillnet, while not getting caught themselves, is uncanny. But in the bigger picture, they take far less than FN gillnets further up river that we always sanction.
His concerns regarding smolt predation mortalities are, I suspect, bang on as well.  Herring… well, perhaps humans are the worst offenders regarding this species.
Not sure how to resolve this as I doubt the general public would have much appetite for a seal cull, but I do believe predators are a factor in our declining salmonid populations. Having said that I believe climate change and human encroachment is by far the biggest factor.

Salmon farms, not so much.
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Fisherbob

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 04:39:21 PM »

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wizard

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 07:45:41 PM »

maybe it's time we explore a great blue heron cull...how many salmon fry and smolts do those things eat?!  Also we should explore culling kingfishers, otters, eagles, ospreys, cormorants, predatory fish like cutthroat, orcas, seagulls, porpoises and pacific loons.  ::) 

seriously though, seems ignorant to me to want to focus on culling seals and largely ignore something as impactful as gravel mining salmon spawning grounds or clear cutting entire watersheds...if you think culling seals is going to make a difference imagine what halting something like gravel mining river beds would do...
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swimmingwiththefishes

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2015, 08:12:10 PM »

maybe it's time we explore a great blue heron cull...how many salmon fry and smolts do those things eat?!  Also we should explore culling kingfishers, otters, eagles, ospreys, cormorants, predatory fish like cutthroat, orcas, seagulls, porpoises and pacific loons.  ::) 

seriously though, seems ignorant to me to want to focus on culling seals and largely ignore something as impactful as gravel mining salmon spawning grounds or clear cutting entire watersheds...if you think culling seals is going to make a difference imagine what halting something like gravel mining river beds would do...

Actually, they are doing some of that down south. Why? Because they don't like putting in time and resources to fish production only to have that wiped out.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/11/141118-shooting-cormorants-columbia-river-salmon-endangered-species-environment/

I agree with everyone who's posted all raise good points. Although I actually think that Smolt predation could be a huge factor on certain stocks if the research is telling us anything.

It is not easy to figure out and generally I don't like killing to prevent killing, however, if we are going to put in all this money, time, and resources into producing Salmon especially by way of hatcheries only to have them be food for Seals then we may want to consider actions such as these even if it's uncomfortable.

Perhaps the solution is to start Seal farms, and stick them all in pens so that they can catch each other's viruses and breath their own feces and then a whole bunch will die a 'natural' death...okay that had to be said just so FarmerBob and Dave don't get off the hook;)
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Fisherbob

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2015, 08:28:34 PM »

Carefull now Swimmer, you know how Nova feels about people stepping over the line. LOL :)
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swimmingwiththefishes

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 12:22:01 PM »

Here some good research that will give us a handle on where to go. Btw this Salish Sea project looks fantastic...

http://marinesurvivalproject.com/research_activity/list/predation/
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VAGAbond

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2015, 02:14:01 PM »

Prior to the 70s the Harbour seal population in the Salish Sea was quite low compared to now in my experience.  Sighting a seal was an uncommon occurrence.  The question is why has the population increased so much?  I suspect that it is because in an earlier age when the human population was much lower and the coast largely remote, seals were shot on sight.  The seals were very wary as a result and stealing salmon off your line was a cause for considerable amazement.  Are there other reasons for the seal population increase?  Surely it isn't due to increased food supply.  Fewer Orcas?
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aquapaloosa

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2015, 05:40:59 PM »

 Pinnapid populations on the Canadian west coast are currently at record highs while these seal and sea loin numbers in Alaska are alarmingly low. There not sure why.  It's difficult to find information on these numbers.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 05:42:59 PM by aquapaloosa »
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Chicken farm, pig farm, cow farm, fish farm.

Michaelt

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2015, 09:22:16 PM »

Briefly skimmed this topic, but to me this issue is akin to culling wolves to protect the caribou...

To me the problem lies at a management level, like a lot of things.

Furthermore, some firm numbers on the "damage" to salmon populations would need be assessed before any action.

Overall, the previous posts have kind of said it all... lets just kill everything that eats salmon..... maybe the killer whales too.
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shuswapsteve

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2015, 09:35:29 PM »

What is funny about this topic is that those that angry about seals dying in ocean net pens have no problem with a seal cull.
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TNAngler

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2015, 11:31:42 AM »

Briefly skimmed this topic, but to me this issue is akin to culling wolves to protect the caribou...

To me the problem lies at a management level, like a lot of things.

Furthermore, some firm numbers on the "damage" to salmon populations would need be assessed before any action.

Overall, the previous posts have kind of said it all... lets just kill everything that eats salmon..... maybe the killer whales too.

I have seen some of the damage first hand.  Maybe things are different now but I know back in the 80s and 90s out on a gillnetter, we would often get salmon with bites taken out of them.  It was obvious when the seal was hungry and when they weren't.  If they were hungry, fish we had seen previously would be completely removed or maybe you would get a head.  If they weren't, you would have a bite taken right out of the belly at the back.  This makes the fish completely unsellable and unless it is something where you want to take it home and try and salvage the fish, it often just gets tossed over the side.

The problem comes when only a certain number of fish are allowed to be caught.  If some of those fish are caught but then discarded and therefore not counted, additional fish get caught to replace those.
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Michaelt

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Re: Harbour Seal Cull needs to be explored
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2015, 01:50:31 PM »

I have seen some of the damage first hand.  Maybe things are different now but I know back in the 80s and 90s out on a gillnetter, we would often get salmon with bites taken out of them.  It was obvious when the seal was hungry and when they weren't.  If they were hungry, fish we had seen previously would be completely removed or maybe you would get a head.  If they weren't, you would have a bite taken right out of the belly at the back.  This makes the fish completely unsellable and unless it is something where you want to take it home and try and salvage the fish, it often just gets tossed over the side.

The problem comes when only a certain number of fish are allowed to be caught.  If some of those fish are caught but then discarded and therefore not counted, additional fish get caught to replace those.

I'm not sure why you quoted me specifically... anyways.

Your comment is a classic example of fisherman using their first hand perspective/experiences and expanding them to a "large scale fact". We have all been guilty of it, including myself. An example of this is people (fisherman) saying things like "there are a lot of bucks this year" (based on their very insignificant personal sample size of a population). My point is that people should do some research on the topics they claim to have an answer to and not just suggest that their relatively unsubstantial experiences are the direct cause and effect.

Touching on your last sentence, you are actually required (for many commercial salmon fisheries) to record all your "released" fish (at sea observers aid in this assessment as well). Fisheries managers will then apply a mortality rate to those released fish and they are counted against your quota as if you had retained them. Fisherman would should and probably do consider this when fishing.
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