The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) has been working tirelessly to end the mass shooting of seals by the Scottish Salmon industry over the past ten years. Thanks to our campaign the number of seals shot each year has fallen to a record new low.
The campaign led to the Scottish Government introducing the Seal Licence scheme in 2011. Before then, seal killings by fish-farmers, wild salmon net fisheries and angling interests went unrecorded, and but were estimated to be in the thousands each year.
The evidence for the dramatic fall in shooting can be found in Scottish Government statistics here. The figures reveal that 53 grey and 19 common seals were reported shot in 2017, compared to the 97 shot the previous year, and 160 in 2015. This figure, represents a drop of some 84% compared to the 459 seals shot in 2011, when the Seal Licence was first introduced, and with a three-year coastal netting ban still in place to protect wild stocks, introduced in April 2016, this number is set to remain at this lower level in 2018.
However, while thousands of seals have undoubtedly been saved by the campaign, some 1,700 seals have been reported shot since 2011, and SPAG will not rest until the killing is stopped completely. The chances of this are growing stronger, thanks to new legislation introduced in the United States, which could see Scottish salmon imports banned within the next two years unless seal killings are stopped completely. The new laws require all US trading partners to prohibit the deliberate killing or serious injury of marine mammals in all fisheries, including aquaculture, or face a complete ban on access to US markets. With Scottish exports of salmon worth £600 million in 2017, the US represents the single biggest export market for the sector at almost £200 million in 2017.
The Seal Protection Action Group is working to ensure that the new US laws are not weakened or scrapped in the face of pressure from the Scottish Government and Scottish Salmon industry.
SPAG founded the Salmon Aquaculture and Seals Working Group (SASWG) in 2010 to work with government and salmon companies, along with retailers and scientists, to reduce seal shooting by finding and implementing exclusively non-lethal solutions to conflicts with seals. SPAG is calling on the Scottish Government and Scottish salmon industry to work with us to end all seal shooting by 2020.