Shetland seal pup slaughter update:Two men appear in court

The two fishermen charged with the deaths of 21 grey seal pups on the small island of East Linga in the Shetland Islands have now appeared in court.

John George Eunson, aged 44, of Seefeld, Symbister, Whalsay, and 47 year old Jimmy Stewart, of Ellies Knowe, Saltness, Symbister, Whalsay, have been charged with mutilating, beating and crushing and willfully killing 21 grey seals with intent to cause unnecessary suffering under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act.

Both men have also been charged under the Conservation of Seals Act (1970) for killing seals during the closed breeding season, between 1st September and 31st December, when grey seals are nursing their newborn pups.

Grey seal pup

The Seal Protection Action Group is campaigning to get the The Conservation of Seals Act (CSA 1970) replaced with effective legislation that actually protects seals from deliberate killing. The CSA provides little more than a licence to kill grey and common seals, except during their respective breeding seasons, because : fishing interests, notably salmon farmers, netsmen and sport anglers can shoot seals perfectly legally to prevent damage to their equipment or stock.
To date there has only ever been one successful prosecution under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970, and this related to the use of a shotgun, rather than a rifle, to kill three seals. Over the years there have been numerous illegal seal killing incidents around the Scottish coast, some of which the police have investigated, though no charges have been brought against offenders.

It is estimated that up to 5,000 seals are killed in Scottish waters each year by salmon farm and fisheries interests. Recently scientists have reported that there has been a ‘frightening’ decline in common (harbour) seals in Scotland and England. It is not yet clear if grey seals have been affected.

The two men arrested over the horrific grey seal pup slaughter made no plea when they appeared in the dock. They have also been excused from appearing in court when the case is recalled on 15 January after one of the defendants said he would be sea fishing on that date.
Andy Ottaway of the Seal protection Action Group said:

“This appalling case highlights they need for a fundamental change in attitude, and the law, for our globally important common and grey seal populations. Our seals are disappearing and this culture of killing seals must be stopped. Our seals must be fully protected under law from any deliberate killing before it is too late”

At the Seal protection Action Group we are campaigning to create, effective legislation to provide seals with the full protection they deserve. On Tuesday 16th December, representatives from the Seal Protection Action Group along with a delegation of MP’s visited 10 Downing Street to hand in a letter signed by 27 leading animal welfare and conservation organisations asking for an immediate and comprehensive ban on the deliberate killing of all seals in UK waters, including Scottish waters.

Andy Ottaway of the Seal Protection Action Group has a message for the public:

“Until the governments protect our seals as they surely must, we are calling on the public to avoid Scottish salmon unless they can be assured that no seals have been killed. We know that the public support our view that dead seals is too high a price to pay for Scottish salmon”

PRESS ENQUIRIES:Please click here to download the official Media Release

For further details about our campaign to protect seals in the UK please click here to be redirected to our ‘Saving Scotland’s Seals’ campaign.

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