Holidaymakers witness seal shooting horror!

20th August 2012

An English couple holidaying in an idyllic fishing village in the north-east of Scotland has vowed never to return to Scotland after witnessing seals being shot in front of them. The couple were so horrified that they cut short their holiday in Crovie, Aberdeenshire and have contacted the Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) to ask if anything can be done to stop this slaughter.

Mr and Mrs Jackson of Melton Mowbray say 14 seals were shot in just 10 days during their stay in Crovie in June.  A local witness claims at least 20 seals have been shot to date by men from Usan Salmon Fisheries of Montrose that have set up a salmon netting station at Crovie.  Mr Jackson says seal carcasses were left on the beach to be collected later. Residents that let holiday cottages in the area have protested and fear the company intends to shoot more seals, further threatening vital tourism to the area.

The Scottish Government introduced the Seal Licence scheme in 2011 to curb seal shooting after a SPAG campaign claiming thousands of seals were shot in Scottish waters every year by salmon-farmers, nets-men and the sports-angling industry. When SPAG contacted Marine Scotland about the shooting of seals in Crovie we were shocked to be told that they were already aware of local concerns, but the company ‘had not exceeded the terms of their licence’. Last year, the Scottish Government issued 66 licences to kill a maximum of 1,339 seals, claiming they were a ‘last resort’ measure, to prevent damage to fishing gear and protect fish stock.Shot seal on Crovie beach

In June of this year, the Scottish Government revealed that 461 seals were shot under licence in 2011. In 2012, they have issued 58 licences to shoot 1,100 seals. SPAG has criticised the fact that further licences were issued before last year’s total seal shootings were known. SPAG has also condemned a repeated failure to release seal-shooting figures quarterly as promised. No figures on seal killings have been issued in 2012, a situation SPAG says is ‘completely unacceptable’.

The Usan Salmon Ltd website says they catch salmon and trout in an ‘environmentally friendly and traditional way’ with their produce ‘gracing the table of some of the most famous restaurants and hotels in the UK’. They also operate a further two salmon and trout netting stations elsewhere.

Andy Ottaway of SPAG said, ‘We are appalled that this cold-blooded and sickeningly casual slaughter of seals could in any way be considered acceptable. Anyone witnessing this callous act would be shocked and we are not surprised the locals fear the impact it may have on tourism’.

Earlier this year SPAG  welcomed a ‘huge reduction’ on historic levels of seal killings brought about by the new licence scheme, but also warned licences should not be used to rubber-stamp mass seal killings, but rather aim to introduce new practices and equipment in order to prevent them.

‘We believe it is perfectly possible to deter seals from fishing nets, fish-cages  and angling rivers without harming them’ said Ottaway, ‘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 products. The government must end these seal killings that tarnish the image of Scotland and are now a threat to vital tourism’


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