What are the effects of seal populations on the ecosystem and economy? How can seal populations be managed?
Seal hunting used to be an important industry in many Nordic countries few decades ago, as seal hunters from Norway, Finland, Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, Russia and Canada harvested hundreds of thousands of seals every year. This industry became heavily criticised in the 1980’s as animal welfare issues started to be raised. Around the turn of the century the seal hunting had become politically and socially unacceptable, which had effects on markets for the products, making it difficult for commercial seal hunting to continue. Seal hunting in the north-Atlantic has now been almost non-existent for the past two decades. But what effects has this change in utilisation of seal stocks had on the ecosystem and economy of those affected by seal populations?
The Nordic seals project is a network program which is to gather, analyse and disseminate information on the seal populations in the North-Atlantic and adjacent waters. The project will in particular aim to:
- gather facts about seal populations and distribution in the N-Atlantic,
- examine the effects of seal populations on the ecosystem (pray-predator relationships with other species)
- analyse the effects of the seal populations on the Nordic seafood industry,
- identify means of controlling seal populations, including sustainable harvesting,
- identify and analyse potential products and markets, whilst considering barriers such as animal welfare, policy and political correctness, food safety and toxins.
The Nordic Seals project is a small network programme which is intended to facilitate discussions among key stakeholders. The project has two main outputs, which are:
- An open conference which will present the main findings of the project to be held as part of the Icelandic Fisheries conference in November 2021 https://sjavarutvegsradstefnan.is/
- A final report containing the main results of the project.
The project will finish by end of year 2021 and will hopefully contribute to informed discussions on the future of seal management.