BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION 1887.
Injuries to the Fisheries in the Baltic by Seals *
The constantly increasing number of seals on our Baltic coasts has become so serious a danger to our coast fisheries, that it appears high time to find ways and means to keep these injurious animals away from our shores. Ten or fifteen years ago, when our fishermen still underrated their destructiveness, and at best were amused to see one of them, it was hardly thought possible that these animals would one day endanger the fisheries on the coast of Sleswick-Holstein, where, they formerly appeared only in small numbers and at places where there was not much chance of their injuring the fisheries.
Those fiords suffer most where cod fisheries are carried on with nets and bow-nets during the months of October, November, and December. The damage done to the fisheries by seals in Eckernforde and Neustadt alone is very considerable, as they frequently tear about a hundred nets in one day. Unfortunately the fishermen are very slow in making such cases public and bringing them to the knowledge of persons interested.
Hunting seals on our east coast has so far had little or no result. This sport offers too few attractions, for the seal when mortally wounded invariably sinks to the bottom, where, at least in deep water, it cannot be reached. It might be said that the purpose is fully answered if the seals are killed. But who will do this? There is no use in the fishermen carrying firearms, as they have often done, because they can engage in seal-hunting only in time left over from their proper employment. Moreover, firearms are rather in the way in a boat where fishing is being carried on, because there is constant danger that the crew will come in dangerous contact with these weapons.
Seal-hunting from a boat is not very pleasant for sportsmen, because it can be done only in winter, and even then is very uncertain. An effective protection against seals, therefore, cannot be obtained in this way, and even the granting of rewards for killing them would not answer the purpose, because the huntsman can only in very rare cases prove that his shot has been successful, as the dead seal cannot be taken from the surface of the water, but sinks to the bottom.
NOTE:* "Schadigungen der Fischerei in der Ostsee durch Seehunde." From Mittheilungen der Section des Deutschen Fischerei-Vereins fur Kusten-und Hochsee-Fischerei, Nos. 4 and 5, Berlin, April and May, 1886. Translated from the German by Herman Jacobson.
BULL. U. S. F. C. 87-6