Part 1 Why do we Shoot Seals?

19 October, 2023

When the seal population had collapsed around 1980 and was almost completely extinct, the authorities put an end to all hunting. Seal protection areas were established, and all three species found along our coasts were protected. At the same time, we received EU directives to reduce emissions of DDT and PCBs. It led to the recovery of all three seal populations.

Until they became so numerous that they began to encroach on human territory.

The commercial fishermen near the coast have big problems with seals that get into the bays and steal fish and tear the nets. Both professional fishermen and recreational fishermen believe that the seals eat too many fish and voices were raised for us to be allowed to hunt seals again.

The politicians listened and gave the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Sea and Water Authority the task of drawing up a decision on seal hunting.

For two years, we now have license hunting for gray seals and harbor seals and protective hunting for ringed seals. This year, a total of 2,480 seals may be shot. In contrast to protective hunting, license hunting means that during hunting season you can shoot any seals, including pregnant females, and to do that almost anywhere.

But there are scientists who worry that we are shooting off too many. Scientists who count seals noticed that they have become fewer in the last three years. In addition, they say, the seal has an important place in a healthy ecosystem.

The trawlers, on the other hand, and overfishing are like the elephant in the room, it’s not talked much about.

In several short stories, with graphics and interviews with scientists and authorities, we will deepen the issue.

Reporter: Lena Scherman
Editing: Alexandre Gobatti/Daniel Hager
Graphics: Daniel Hager

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