Ammunition in the fight against fur seals

After years of battling seals damaging their livelihood, Coorong fishers will finally have access to a seal-repellent.  

Explosive crackers were expected to become available for purchase by commercial fishers, at a cost of $3.60 each, by the end of the month, over two years after the state government promised to help fix the problem.

The deterrents can only be used by trained commercial fishers in accordance with animal welfare guidelines.

The state government had remained against a cull against the seals that crippled the region's fishing industry in recent years by biting fish in half and tearing holes in nets.

Southern Fishermen’s Association president Garry Hera-Singh was relieved a preventative measure would soon be available to help combat “the millions of dollars of damages and lost production”, but said he was “remaining realistic” about their potential effects.

“At the moment we have nothing, so we’re just hoping that the crackers will deter the seals long enough just to gather our catches,” he said. 

“Everything we’ve ever tried has never worked, so the crackers are giving us hope, at least.”

Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick has been a voice for the Coorong fisherman for years and said the industry had suffered for far too long.

“The state government has buried its hands in the sand on the seal issue… they’ve basically said ‘there’s nothing to see here’,” he said.

“This issue has already costed the industry many millions of dollars and these crackers have had very limited effect of the seals during the trials.”

Mr Pederick said the crackers would not eradicate the issue.

“We need a broader information campaign for the general public so they can understand what these seals are really doing to the Coorong,” he said.

The use of the deterrents and their effectiveness will be assessed after six and 12 months.