Our expert says:
Usually the decision to declare a species protected or not is made on the recommendation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In conjunction with various sub-committees of specialists and relevant bodies (such as Marine and Coastal Management in this case), the IUCN looks at data on the animal's population numbers over time, geographic range, etc. The conservation status of a species is also regularly reviewed. <br><br>The Cape (or South African) fur seal has often found itself at the centre of debate. It does eat a fair amount of fish, and this means it is in competition with other fish-eating marine animals, especially coastal bird species, some of which are threatened. Seals are also seen as competition with the fishing industry (mainly by members of the fishing industry). Remember, though, that it’s humans who’re overwhelmingly responsible for overfishing! Also, it’s mostly line fishermen who are affected by seals taking their catch. <br> <br>It’s not as though ‘protected’ seals aren’t still highly vulnerable to humans, particularly to our plastics and other pollutants that enter the marine environment. And they are of course hunted by sharks – which could be used as a reason not to declare open season on sharks...
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