Growing seal populations are often considered being an example of successful marine management, and the seals are seen as a symbol of a thriving eco-system. However seals are well-known to interact with local small-scale fisheries by feeding from the gears. This causes both lost catches and broken gear which negatively affects the economic viability of the sector. While lost catches are known to be substantial, no information is currently available on costs for mending gear, searching for fishing grounds with less seals, etc.
This paper estimates these costs from a questionnaire sent to all Swedish fishermen. The total costs for small-scale fisheries is about € 690 thousand, which corresponds to 7 percent of the expenditure for purchased goods (not labor and capital). Total time spent on seal related work corresponds to about 8 percent of total working time. Combining additional costs with revenue losses due to decreased catches, the economic viability of the small-scale fisheries becomes low which might cause a reduction in fleet size.