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Licensed To Kill: Campaigners Condemn Increase In Scottish Seal Killings

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LEWES, East Sussex, UK -- The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) today condemned an increase in seal shootings in Scotland in the first six months of 2012, the second year of a government license scheme introduced to reduce them.

Government figures just released show that 201 grey seals and 41 common seals were shot in the first six months of 2012, compared to 180 grey and 37 common seals shot in the equivalent period last year. The shooting of an additional 21 grey and 4 common seals so far represents a 10% increase in shootings, even though fewer licenses and lower quotas were announced by the Scottish Government this year.

'The Scottish Government made a point of highlighting a reduction in the number of seals that could be shot this year', said Andy Ottaway of SPAG, 'but it is misleading a very concerned public if the number of seals actually being shot is on the increase, especially as shooting is only supposed to be a last resort measure.'

In June of this year, the Scottish Government revealed that 461 seals were shot (368 grey and 93 common) under license in 2011. SPAG then criticized the 'unacceptable' delay in producing these figures, especially as new licenses were issued this year before last year's tally of seal shootings was even known.

Analysis of the government figures show that 52% of seals were shot at fish-farms (240 seals) in 2011, with the remaining 48% (219 seals) shot between 40 netting stations and river fisheries. In 2012 so far, 105 seals have been shot at fish-farms (43%) with the remaining 137 seals (57%) shot at netting stations and river fisheries. These figures suggests an increase in shootings and a shift away from fish farms to netting stations and rivers.

Further disturbing evidence comes from an English couple who cut short a holiday in Aberdeenshire in June this year after witnessing seals being shot in a bay beneath their cottage. Upset locals claim at least 20 seals were shot in just two weeks by the Usan Salmon Fisheries company that have a netting station in Crovie. When SPAG raised concern with Marine Scotland over the mass shooting we were told the company 'had not exceeded the terms of their licensee. Usan Salmon operates two further netting stations elsewhere.

The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) has previously welcomed what appears to be a 'massive reduction' on historic levels of seal killings in Scotland, but warns there is still a long way to go to end them altogether.

'We are grateful to salmon farmers that have greatly reduced seal shooting, but there is no point in saving seals at fish farms if they are shot elsewhere' said Andy Ottaway of SPAG, 'Killing seals for unwitting tourists to go fly-fishing is morally repugnant, tarnishes the image of Scotland and threatens Scottish tourism.'

'The latest figures released by the Scottish Government show an average of nearly 10 seals shot every week in Scottish waters this year and that to many people, including potential tourists, is utterly appalling he added.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

9 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I wonder how many people are aware of the facts- There are over 5 million seals in the world- An adult seal eats 20 lbs of fish/crustasions etc/day- They are a huge problem for the worlds fisheries, and one of man's biggest threats to our own consumption- Wake up folks, and realize that it's not all warm and fuzzy out there- Sometimes you've got to be ruthless to protect yourself and your own-
   comment# 1   - David M Richards · USA · Sep 18, 2012 @ 6:30am

Once again the problem is not the animals,insects,birds, etc. that inhabit this world, it's man! The solution to a lot of their problems is to destroy, dissolve and/or disrupt any way he/she can. These seals live in water near land (dah) and this is where they get their food source. Being "ruthless" is not the answer. Shame on Scotland for allowing this practice. To David M. Richards, you sir are a jerk!
   comment# 2   - Sophie Barcy · Chatsworth, Ca. · Sep 18, 2012 @ 7:31am

Once again the problem is not the animals,insects,birds, etc. that inhabit this world, it's man! The solution to a lot of their problems is to destroy, dissolve and/or disrupt any way he/she can. These seals live in water near land (dah) and this is where they get their food source. Being "ruthless" is not the answer. Shame on Scotland for allowing this practice. To David M. Richards, you sir are a jerk!
   comment# 3   - Sophie Barcy · Chatsworth, Ca. · Sep 18, 2012 @ 7:32am

there's 7 billion humans on earth with teh ability to eat far more than just sea food! David Richards, we as humans think we are number one, but with that though were screwed...some times humans need to be kicked down a few notches and respect other living forms...... once we lose respect for other living life, we lose our selves.... its no mistery, humans are the worse thing to happen to earth..
   comment# 4   - jamie marie · cincinnati, oh · Sep 18, 2012 @ 7:42am

The worst thing that happened to this planet was the birth of the human race the most distructive species in the world.
   comment# 5   - Donald Olienechak · Wellington United States · Sep 18, 2012 @ 8:57am

"Seals are fourth in the fish-eating food chain, coming after fish, birds & humans. Seals are part of a complex food chain which would find it's own natural balance if it was not for the fact that humans, for every fish they keep, destroy hundreds of small fish (before they can reach breeding age) & non-target fish." "Globally, the total fish "removed" by natural predators is zero, while the fishing industry takes about 100 million tons annually." "For an “intelligent” species, humans can be incredibly obtuse. Those who are bothered by the lack of fish today reckon that “predator removal” will cause fish to appear in the ocean in greater numbers. But our grand ocean “predator removal” experiment has been ongoing for centuries. In fact, it is nearing total completion~ the point where humans will be the only significant fish predators left. But overwhelming evidence suggests that the overall project has backfired stupendously. Rather than being left with massive fish production for exclusive human use, the extermination of natural fish predators has mysteriously coincided with an astonishing decline in fish numbers. Very few fish are left in our waters, and they appear to be suffering WITH the seals (rather than FROM the seals) because they also do not appear to be getting enough to eat." Borrowed excerpts from Debbie MacKenzie and G.S.C.S. respectively
   comment# 6   - Jennifer Johnson · Illinois U.S.A. · Sep 18, 2012 @ 9:31am

Its disgusting that these seals should be killed for any reason leave them alone!
   comment# 7   - lisa gaines · scotland · Sep 18, 2012 @ 12:33pm

This is a problem for the Scottish government to sort. Canada cruelly club their seal cubs to death, the Faroes Isles as well as Japan, kill whales in the name of TRADITION. All of these are condemned by many, but Scotland wishes to join them! The human race is growing. WHY? we have contraception. The world belongs to ALL living creatures, great or small and creatures self govern: NO food, no breed. Why do humans not do the same. We are SUPPOSED to be the superior animal but, personally, I WOULD NOT trust one! How nice to know there are over 5 million seals in the world, so, does that not suggest that a reduction of humans would make life more bearable for them? As for D M Richards, I agree with Sophie and Jamie!
   comment# 8   - John Potts · Surrey. UK · Sep 18, 2012 @ 1:33pm

For all of you that are blaming the humans for overpopulating our planet, please do us a favor and kill yourself. That will give more room for more animals/ I won't stop you and just watch on the sideline. You guys are a bunch of lunatics.
   comment# 9   - Christian · USA · Sep 19, 2012 @ 6:37pm
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