CHATHAM (CBS) – A flourishing seal population is the reason experts say they’ve seen an increasing number of Great White sharks in the area.

And now, two days after a Great White shark attacked a beachgoer in Truro, local fishermen are pointing out that it’s not the sharks; it’s the seals that are causing most of the problems in the area.

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Seals are protected under a 1976 congressional act. In the decades since, Chatham’s seal population has exploded from a few hundred to almost 10,000.

The animals have become popular with sightseeing tourists, but they’re also a major threat to the fishing industry.

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“They’re putting us out of business. They’re eating way too much,” Chatham-based fisherman John Our said.

He told WBZ-TV that he has seen his catch cut in half in recent years. And it’s the seals, not government regulations that are mostly to blame.

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“They’re destroying the environment,” Our said. “How many do you want? I understand we can have some. But when the population is larger than the population of Cape Cod in the winter time, something’s wrong.”