Independent Marine Scientists

November 06, 2012 10:36 ET

Independent Marine Scientists Respond to Senate Fisheries Committee Report 'The Sustainable Management of Grey Seal Populations: A Path Toward the Recovery of Cod and Other Groundfish Stocks'

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 6, 2012) -

We, the undersigned, are independent scientists with expertise in marine biology and marine mammals in Atlantic Canada.

We have reviewed the Senate Fisheries Committee report 'The Sustainable Management of Grey Seal Populations: A path toward the recovery of cod and other groundfish stocks'.

We call upon the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to reject the recommendation to cull grey seals in Atlantic Canada.

The scientific community is in agreement that the principal cause of fish stock depletions is human fisheries and that there is no credible scientific evidence to suggest a cull of grey seals in Atlantic Canada would help depleted fish stocks recover. Similar measures taken in the past have never succeeded to increase fish stocks.

The principal reason for this failure is that the greatest predators of fish in the ocean ecosystem are other fish, not marine mammals. Culling grey seals could therefore lead to an increase in fish predation on commercially valuable stocks, and may slow or even hinder the recovery of depleted fish populations including Atlantic Cod.

Be assured, contrary to what some Senators have suggested, an uncontrolled cull of grey seals is not an experiment, would teach us almost nothing about the interactions between seals and fish and would be a waste of valuable resources and animal lives.

We urge you Minister, not to implement a policy that could further degrade our oceans as well as Canada's reputation with respect to sustainable management of marine resources. Please listen to independent scientists and reject the proposed grey seal cull.

Dr. Hal Whitehead

Dr. Sara Iverson

Dr. Boris Worm

Dr. Heike Lotze

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