JANUARY 2011: My Surface Interval named one of the best scuba diving blogs

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seals shot in Scotland

Britain's seal population is facing a silent massacre at the hands of the fish farming industry, wildlife campaigners have claimed.

According to the Seal Protection Action Group an estimated 5,000 seals are being killed in Scotland alone each year by salmon farming and angling interests.

The Saving Scotland’s Seals Campaign has now been launched to create legislation to provide seals with full protection and encourage retailers to only stock ‘seal-friendly salmon’.

The UK is home to globally important seal populations of grey and common seals. It is currently legal to shoot seals outside their breeding season when they are threatening fish farms.
But a drop in the number of common seals around Scotland - possibly due to ecological changes, a shortage of wild fish and perhaps predation by Orcas in some areas - has led some campaigners to fear the gunmen are being a little too trigger happy.

Scott Landsburgh of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation said estimates of the number of seals shot were well off target.
According to industry figures, 489 were reported shot last year and Mr Landsburgh branded the current outcry as ill-informed reporting. SSPO have also produced a background document on the issues.
He told BBC1's Countryfile programme: "The seals are very aggressive, they attack the nets and can bite through them, and they can also actually use their flippers to steal salmon out of the cages.
"We all like seals, we all want to protect the seals, but our paramount responsibility is the welfare of the salmon."

Paramount responsibility is the salmon? Is that the very salmon that will be fished out, killed and slapped in a plastic container ready for out tables?
Or should the statement have read: "Our paramount responsibility is the welfare of our bottom line"?

Andy Ottaway, Campaign Director at SPAG, said: “The British public are appalled at the mass slaughter of seals in the Canadian seal hunt. They will be horrified to learn that the mass killing of seals is taking place in this country all year round.
“Surely the Scottish salmon industry, which is worth hundreds of millions of pounds can find ways of keeping seals away from their stock without killing them."

An interesting observation. With some estimates putting the industry's worth at £380 million (page 9), there's a lot of cash floating around which could be used to fund conservation efforts rather than a bullet through the brain.

While we as a nation are continually asking other countries to stop the slaughter of animals and think of the cash that nature tourism could bring to their economies, it's a bit hypocritical for politicians to be turning a blind eye to the issues on home shores.
Having dived with seals in the Farnes Islands, I can only say what a magical experience it was. They rank as three of the best dives I've ever done in terms of marine life interaction. We were buzzed, examined and nibbled by the playful creatures and I've got countless pics of whiskered noses being rubbed against the port of my camera.

The Scottish Government does have a working group called the Scottish Seals Forum, but the latest minutes on its website are from three years ago and the most up to date scientific research is from four years ago. Better to look at the Sea Mammals Research Unit for its up to date research.
While their report acknowledges the problems faced by the salmon farming industry, it states:
"Very little research has been directed specifically at the interactions between seals and fin fish
It also suggests that more could be done across the industry to share best practice on dealing with the problem before picking up the gun.
"By using current industry knowledge it may be possible to design solutions to the problem of seal-fin fish farm interactions by applying techniques that are currently available," the report adds.

If this angers you click here for different ways to take action.

No comments: