Fisherman defends use of 'bear-banger' against sea lions
The commercial fisherman seen tossing a “bear-banger” into a large raft of seals and sea lions says he did it for educational purposes but quickly found it landed him into an ocean of hot water.
"The reaction has been fairly violent, more than I really would like. My life has been threatened several, several times," Allan Marsden told CTV News.
Marsden believes the threats and negative comments are coming from people who don’t understand the battle commercial fisherman of all sorts face against the seal and sea lions.
He says fishermen are not out to harass the mammals but rather are looking for a way to figure out a way to make a living while minimizing the impact they have on their industry.
Marsden says the mammal’s population has increased dramatically over the past five years and quotes a herring industry estimate that damages to equipment alone by the mammals is as high as $150,000 per year.
He also points to safety concerns, saying the mammals have been known to attack crew members and he himself was the victim of an attack on his vessel three years ago.
A tweet sent out by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Thursday reminded the public that disturbing marine mammals through the use of acoustic deterrents such as seal bombs or other explosives is illegal. Marsden insists he has done nothing illegal.
The federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Jonathan Wilkinson called the bear-banging incident “completely unacceptable and we are in the process of investigating the incident and identifying the perpetrators.”
While many of the public have been critical of the fisherman’s actions and disagree with any suggestions the seal and sea lion population is to blame for reduced fish populations, a group looking to cull some of the mammals says it’s time for Fisheries and Oceans to help them out.
The Pacific Balanced Pinniped Society is calling for a sanctioned, licensed fishery of seals and sea lions to be managed by DFO. The group’s vice-president
Thomas Sewid says fishers are worried about their safety when working in proximity to the mammals. “The agencies: DFO, Wildlife, RCMP, they took an oath to serve and protect, it’s time they come and protect us fishermen," he said.