Greens animal welfare spokesperson Tammy Franks MLC has welcomed Minister Hunter’s long overdue commitment of more than $100,000 in State Government funding for humane, non-lethal deterrents to reduce seal numbers in the Coorong and lower lakes – but she says this is only the first of many steps that must be urgently taken.
“While The Greens welcome the news that Minister Hunter has made a commitment to funding humane, non-lethal deterrents to reduce seal numbers, this is a long overdue first step,” Ms Franks said.
“What we need is an ecological solution, not a single-species solution.
“The Coorong is a world-renowned Ramsar site of ecological, cultural and economic significance and any deterrents that are trialled must also consider the impacts on other animals.
“It is clear that the seals are having a serious adverse impact on other species, including local bird life, so inaction isn’t an option.
“Ngarrindjeri concerns about their totem, the pelican, must also be part of the discussion.
“There is no doubt that the seals are having a devastating impact on the local community. This is a community that survived the drought and now they’re doing it even tougher.
“I’ve spoken with fishers who are risking their safety by heading out in the middle of the night without so much as a torchlight in order to avoid attracting seals and I’ve heard from fishers who have spent the night playing tug of war with these 200 to 300kg mammals.
“It is clear that the community is in desperate need of Government intervention to ensure that the fishing industry can survive into the future.
“I am calling on the Government to urgently offer licence fee relief to local fishers to assist them in the short-term, until seal numbers in the Coorong and lower lakes are under control.”
Ms Franks travelled to the Coorong and lower lakes last week to meet with local fishers, penguin experts and conservation groups.