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LEWES, East Sussex -- The Seal Protection Action Group has today condemned the failure of the Scottish Government to release figures on the number of seals shot over the past seven months under its new Seal License Scheme, introduced at the beginning of 2010. Last year, 68 licenses were issued to kill a maximum of 1,298 seals.
In February, the government announced that a total of 362 seals were shot in the first nine months of 2011 and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead then described the scheme as 'working well'. Since then no further figures have been forthcoming, leaving seven months of seal shooting effectively unreported.
Andy Ottaway of the Seal Protection Action Group said today:
'The failure of the Scottish Government to provide up-to-date figures on the number of seals being shot is totally unacceptable. It calls into serious question the government's determination to ensure the scheme delivers a real and substantial reduction in these seal killings which leave an indelible stain on the international image of Scotland, Scottish salmon and other seafood products."
This year, the Scottish Government issued 58 licenses to shoot a maximum of 1,100 seals. SPAG has already criticized the fact that new licenses were issued before the final number of seal shootings in 2011 were known. Since then a further four months has gone by, making it a total of seven months of unreported seal killings. SPAG is calling for Seal Licenses to be revoked if it proves that these returns are not being provided on time.
The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) has welcomed what appears to be a 'massive reduction' in seal killings brought about by the new scheme. However it believes much more needs to be done to end these 'totally unacceptable' seal killings altogether:
'We know it is perfectly possible to deter seals and other wild predators without harming them. At least one seal is shot every day in Scottish waters and that is too high a price to pay for Scottish salmon and other seafood'