Scotland Outlaws the Shooting of Seals by Fish Farms

Scotland Outlaws the Shooting of Seals by Fish Farms

Seals can breathe easy and eat fish in peace knowing they will no longer be murdered for coming too close to commercial fish farms.

The Scottish parliament passed the Animals and Wildlife bill, which now protects seals, instead of giving fisheries a “license to kill.”

This bill makes the old The Marine Scotland Act of 2010, null and void by removing a provision that granted fisheries licenses for shooting seals to keep them from eating their farmed fish.

Now if fish farmers are caught shooting seals, they’ll face a £40,000 fine and/or up to 5 years imprisonment.

Since the licensing began in 2011, the Scottish government reports that over 1,900 seals have been killed.

However, the Humane Society believes the number is much higher, as the fisheries are the ones reporting the numbers with no third-party verification.

“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,” the Humane Society’s senior marine scientist Mark Simmonds said.

“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.”

Scotland’s new law was passed as part of a trade deal with the United States.

The U.S.’s new Marine Mammal Protection Act requires Scotland to ban the shooting of seals if it wants to continue its lucrative salmon exports to the U.S.

In 2019, the U.S. imported close to a quarter billion dollars worth of Scottish salmon.

“The majority of consumers are not happy for seals to be collateral damage in the price of salmon, and now US import requirements have introduced a strong economic incentive to call a halt to the cruel killing,” Claire Bass, Executive Director of HSI/UK, said.

Grey seals are some of the rarest seals in the world, with over 40 percent found in UK waters.

The population of harbor seals, also found in the U.K., is also declining.

While getting shot is the worst of their worries, seals also get entangled in fishing gear, swim through marine litter and have their breeding grounds disturbed by fish farms.


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