Dáil Éireann - Volume 381 - 08 June, 1988

Written Answers. - Seal Culling.

77. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if it is intended to carry out a legal seal cull off the west coast during 1988; the measures in place to prevent such activities taking place illegally; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

78. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the estimated seal population on the west coast of Ireland; if he will indicate when a count was last taken; the [1678] methods used in such calculation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Finance (Mr. MacSharry): I propose to reply to Questions Nos. 77 and 78 together. It is not intended to carry out a legal seal cull off the west coast during 1988. Authorised persons under the Wildlife Act will be vigilant in keeping areas where illegal culls might take place under surveillance.

The estimated seal population nationally is 3,000 of which approximately 1,900 are located in the west of Ireland. The last full seal survey was carried out in 1983 and some monitoring has been done at selected sites annually. The method of counting the seal population is threefold: (a) by aerial observation of seals and pups on land; (b) by observation from the sea of seals and pups on land; and (c) by on site counting of seals and pups at all sites.

As only breeding females and pups can be counted by the above methods, the final estimate of population is reached by adding to the above numbers, a percentage to cover males, non-breeding females and juveniles. The percentage added varies between 200 per cent and 750 per cent depending on the site.