Management Plan for the Finnish Seal Populations in the Baltic Sea

The management plan outlines the actions through which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry continues the systematic management of the seal populations in the Baltic Sea. The aim is to maintain seals as a permanent component of the marine environment and its diverse community of living organisms, as well as a valuable natural resource which can be utilised in a sustainable way.

Three management areas at sea

In the management plan the territorial marine areas of Finland have been divided into three management areas: the Bothnian Bay/Kvarken, South-western Finland and the Gulf of Finland.

The growth of the grey seal population should be restricted in the management areas of the Bothnian Bay/Kvarken and South-western Finland primarily through hunting under licences. In the Gulf of Finland the grey seal population can be allowed to grow. Hunting under licences granted by the game management districts is focused to regions where the population is strong and causes significant damage.

Possibilities to reduce damages to fishing by hunting ringed seals under exceptional licences granted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are being examined. At this point the use of regular hunting licences granted by the game management districts is not considered.

Broad hearing of stakeholders during the preparation

During the different stages in the preparation of the management plan, a great variety of stakeholders representing NGOs, authorities and actors whose livelihood and everyday activities are influenced by seals were heard. The plan is founded on a survey of the positions and attitudes of local people and national stakeholder groups regarding seals and the management of seal populations

The management plan consists of two parts. Part I establishes the background to the management of the seal populations. It describes the position of the grey seal and Baltic ringed seal in the national and international legislation. It also deal with the status of the Baltic sea, biology of the seal and population trends, relationship between man and seal, and population management accomplished so far.

Part II presents the objectives for the population management and the measures to be taken. The measures concern, among other things, the regional management of seal populations, protection of seals, preventing damage, communication, and cooperation. The measures take account of the economic, social and cultural requirements and special regional and local characteristics.

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