The Marine Scotland Act of 2010 has been amended to bring to an end 10 years of seal shooting in the country.
This was after the Scottish Parliament recently approved the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill.
This means that licences for the shooting of seals will no longer be granted. And it means that illegal seal shooting has also been increased to 12 months imprisonment or a £40,000 fine or, on indictment, an unlimited fine/ five years imprisonment.
The move has been welcomed by the Humane Society International (HSI) as ‘critically important for seal welfare in British waters’.
The institution state that ‘large numbers’ of seals are shot every year in Scotland, in order to protect commercial fish farms and fisheries.
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A shot seal can die a slow death
HSI has been campaigning for the end to seal shooting for a number of reasons – including a perceived under-reporting of the amount of seals killed, the killing of pregnant females and females with young pup, as well as evidence that the seals do not always die instantaneously.
The Humane Society’s senior Marine Scientist, Mark Simmonds, said: “An alarming number of seals are shot and killed in Scottish waters, and there is evidence that some are likely to be injured and die a slow and painful death at sea and may not show up in the official statistics. It’s a huge concern and so a ban on seal shooting in Scotland is critically important for seal welfare in British waters.”
“We share our seas with these charismatic marine mammals, and it is simply unacceptable to kill them for eating the fish in their ocean home,” Simmonds added.
The licensing requirement for seal shooting began in 2011, since when the Scottish government has reported that slightly less than 2000 seals were shot. However, HSI feels there has been inadequate independent verification and that the numbers could be far higher.
But although it’s good to hear that seals will be less likely to be shot, there was also, it seems, an ulterior motive to the change of regulations.
This is because of a United States Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which comes into effect in January 2022, which would not permit Scotland to continue to import salmon to the U.S of the seal shooting was to continue.
Scottish salmon exports in 2019 were worth a reported £179m.
The United Kingdom is home to two species of seals – the grey seal and the harbour (or common) seal. Grey seals are rare worldwide and the UK’s population of 124,000 grey seals makes up 40% of the global numbers and 95% of the EU population.
GREAT NEWS: Scotland bans seal killing in major victory to end fish farm shootings! 👏 https://t.co/FCWbaasP93
— Humane Society International (@HSIGlobal) June 18, 2020
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