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LEWES, Sussex -- The Scottish Government has published details on it's website of the number of seals that have been shot in the first six months under its new seal licensing scheme, introduced under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, that came in to force this year.
Under the new scheme, 68 licenses have been issued to kill a maximum of 1,298 seals this year. The figures released reveal that a total of 175 grey and 36 common seals have been killed in the first six months, a total of 211 seals overall. Following the average set so far the campaigners predict that around 400 seals will be shot this year, a third of the government set limit and up to a 90% reduction on historic levels.
The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) has welcomed this 'huge reduction' in seal killings, but argues that much more needs to be done to end 'these unacceptable seal killings' altogether.
Today SPAG Director Andy Ottaway said, "The Scottish Government's seal licence scheme is making a huge impact in reducing the numbers of seals shot every year in Scotland. However, without the mandatory introduction of non-lethal measures to deter seals, the numbers of seals killed in Scotland will remain unacceptably high. An average of at least one seal shot every single day is too high a price to pay for Scottish Salmon and other Scottish seafood'".
SPAG is working with a major producer and a leading retailer of Scottish farmed salmon, along with the RSPCA and scientists from the Sea Mammal Research Unit to end seal killings. The Salmon Aquaculture and Seals Working Group was formed in September 2010 to find non-lethal solutions to seal predation on salmon farms and other sites, such as by using correctly tensioned nets and developing acoustic deterrent devices that do not harm seals or other wildlife.
"We are grateful to Marine Harvest, Sainsbury's and the RSPCA for working with us to eliminate all seal killings and the Scottish Government's licensing scheme is a mechanism to help achieve that" said Ottaway, "We know it is perfectly possible to deter seals and other wild predators without harming them. The new license scheme must not rubber-stamp seal killings, but ultimately end them altogether."
He added, "The Scottish Government and Scottish Salmon and fisheries industry can and must implement better industry practices and technologies to end these seal killings which leave an indelible stain on the international image of Scotland, Scottish salmon and other seafood products."