Green Party minister said plans to shoot seals from moving boats with high-powered rifles would be “politically unacceptable”

A Green Party Minister said a plan to shoot seals from moving boats would be “politically unacceptable” and suggested a compensation scheme for fishermen should be considered instead.

A controversy had erupted over suggestions that the Department of Housing was considering a pilot scheme to allow hunters and fishermen cull seals using high-powered rifles from their vessels in Cork and Kerry.

However, the idea was quickly rejected by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, according to internal emails.

Asked for his views, Mr Noonan said as well as being politically unacceptable such a plan would be “of no value in addressing the real problem here; dwindling fish stocks affecting fishing livelihoods and seal’s food source”.

“I think a compensation scheme would be a better approach,” he added.

In an email from an official, Mr Noonan was told that his colleague Darragh O’Brien shared that view.

“Minister O’Brien is also very clear in his direction on this,” said the message. “No culls of any sort supports NPWS [National Parks & Wildlife Service] longstanding position.”