Coexisting with large carnivores - the case of seals

Small scale coastal fishing along the Baltic Sea coast is rapidly declining. This has consequences for e.g. cultural heritage in small fishing communities and reduces the availability of locally produced fish. This development has several explanations, but one frequently put forward in the debate is the growing seal populations.

Seals feed directly from the nets, which causes damages to catches and gear to an extent that is difficult for the fishing sector to handle. At the same time, growing seal populations are an example of successful management and the seal is a symbol of a thriving eco-system. Both seals and fisheries are necessary for flourishing coastal areas.

This project brings a new angle to the topic by integrating research from biology, economics and environmental psychology. Biology focuses on seal damaged catch and gears, economics on how seal management (e.g. seal-proof gear, economic compensation) influences the economic possibilities for fishermen to continue fishing, and environmental psychology on how proposed seal management might be opposed or supported by stakeholders. The methodologies used in the project will be field experiments (biology), economic sector models and econometrics (economy), and questionnaires and in-depth interviews (environmental psychology). By integrating research topics, management scenarios, and choice of local communities the project will generate outcomes that would not be possible without the interdisciplinary approach.

The project is a co-operation between AgriFood, the Department of Biology at Lund University, the Department of Aquatic Resources at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering, LTH. The project deadline is in 2019.

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