The Irish Wildlife Trust has said that ending overfishing and putting marine protection measures in place is a better approach to improving fish stocks, rather than looking to cull seal numbers.

A pilot scheme to shoot seals on Irish coastal waters is being considered by the Government to deal with overpopulation in Cork and Kerry.

Reports have said that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has received five applications for licences to cull the marine mammals, including three applications which suggested using high-powered rifles.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning, Pádraig Fogarty, Irish Wildlife Trust spokesperson, said having a healthy seal population is a good thing and that while fishermen are having difficulties, the key problem is overfishing.

He said that reduced fish stocks are as a result of the ecological collapse of the ocean ecosystem.

Mr Fogarty said overfishing and the mismanagement of waters have left fish numbers reduced, but there are other solutions rather than culling seal numbers.

He said that bottom trawlers and super-trawlers need to be phased out and that protected marine areas need to be established.

Mr Fogarty said Ireland is way behind in ending over-fishing measures and putting restoration measures in place adding that "the sooner we get on with that, the sooner fish populations will recover".

He said that seals are one of first-ever protected animals in Ireland and it is a good news story that numbers have increased.