As the presence of gray seals in Cape Cod continues to increase, various stakeholders throughout the community view this situation in both positive and negative ways.
The flourishing grey seal population on Cape Cod is frustrating the fishermen because the seals are
taking a portion of their cod stocks and destructing their fishing gear, making the fish harvesting process more difficult. Therefore, the fishermen care about the actions of grey seals because they are directly hindering their industry on a daily basis. For many fishermen in Cape Cod, catching fish for profit is a priority and a necessity to live. It is because of this that they feel obligated to take control of the situation by decreasing the gray seal population themselves. One problem in limiting this from happening is the Mammal Protection Act. Grey seals are protected by the MMPA and cannot be harmed by fishermen, therefore giving fishermen no way to decrease the total impact grey seals bring to their fishing. In response to this law some fishermen have been advocating for new, direct methods to limit seal numbers, including culling.
Presence of White Sharks
Rising seal numbers have also been linked to the apparent increase in white sharks around Cape Cod, which disturbs stakeholders who frequent the beaches and swim off the coast. Sightings of great whites have increased notably in the past decade. In the summer of 2013, a swimmer off Cape Cod was attacked by a white shark for the first time since 1936. Predators, such as sharks are an eminent threat to the wellbeing of many Cape Cod families. In reaction to protect their loved ones many coastal stakeholders have spoken out against grey seals.
In response to these negative views, the Seal Abatement Coalition was then formed for all stakeholders who place a negative connotation on the increase in grey seals. This coalition has circulated a petition calling for an amendment or exception to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which would permit the humane dispersion of gray seals.
Conversely, local businesses have capitalized on the increase in grey seals by offering seal tours. Tour boats shuttle visitors to watch as the seals sun themselves on Monomoy Island south of Chatham. At the Chatham Fish Pier, they bob their heads out of the water with an almost human-like quality, playfully swim here and there as fishermen unload their catch. Tourists find gray seals to be cute creatures therefore, tour boats have become popular and have proved to be a large revenue producer for the Cape Cod ecotourism industry.