Renewed call for cull as seals put fishermen's jobs at risk
DINGLE fishermen have repeated their appeal to the government to sanction a seal cull because of the amount of damage being caused to fish catches.
A group of fishermen gathered on the pier on Friday to demonstrate against what they see as inaction by the state to save jobs in the port.
A large area of the pier was covered in fish which had been half eaten by seals while in the nets of the vessel Atlantic Fisher off Brandon on Thursday.
"We had to give up our day's fishing because of the seals and we're tied up today. That's costing us €2,000 a day in lost earnings. We're heading off again tonight and we'll be fishing 150 miles off the coast to avoid the seals but some seals will follow us," Atlantic Fisher skipper Johnny O'Connor said.
Fisherman Micky Hennessy said the seal damage is putting up to 60 jobs at risk in the port.
"We have all these election candidates going around telling us about the employment they're going to create. We are employed but we're going to lose our jobs over this and they're doing nothing about it," he said.
Retired fisherman John Francis Brosnan said the government should acknowledge that there is a serious problem and should cull the seals.
"You never saw damage like this when I was fishing. The seal population has increased tenfold since my time. It's very frustrating for the lads and if it keeps going like this they'll be forced to kill the seals themselves. But then they'll be branded as criminals. It's just not fair," he said.
The fishermen have repeated their invitation to Brendan Price of the Irish Seal Sanctuary to see first hand the damage being caused by the seals.
Speaking on an interview on Radio Kerry on Friday Mr Price dismissed claims by the fishermen that the seals could cost any fishing vessel losses of €2,000 a day.
"In my opinion the seals could not be eating that amount of fish from the nets but I'm willing to go out and see for myself," he said, adding: "The fishermen do have problems but they will not have an extra fish as a result of a seal cull."