An estimated 5,000 seals are being killed in Scotland alone each year by salmon farming and angling interests. The Saving Scottish / UK Seals Campaign aims to create, effective legislation to provide seals with full protection and to encourage retailers to only stock ‚Äòseal-friendly salmon‚Äô by insisting formal contracts, with their suppliers stating that they will not shoot seals.
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At present, common and grey seals are ‚Äòprotected‚Äô by the Conservation of Seals Act (1970), which is little more than a licence to kill them, except during their respective breeding seasons: June 1st to August 31st for common seals and September 1st to December 31st for greys. Even then, fishing interests, notably salmon netsmen and fin fish farmers, can still shoot seals to prevent damage to their equipment or fish stocks. Recent scientific research conducted by The Sea Mammal Research Unit has revealed that there is a ‚Äòfrightening‚Äô decline of common (harbour) seals in the UK. The latest figures show that last year common seal numbers fell from 4,256 to 3,379 in Orkney, from 1,056 to 800 along the eastern coast of the northern Highlands, from 113 to 102 in the north-east, in Grampian, and from 6,702 to 4,732 on the west coast from Oban to the Mull of Kintyre. There was also a fall, from 445 to 215, in Fife, and by nearly half in the smaller populations around Lothian and Dumfries and Galloway. Although the reasons for the decline are unknown, SPAG believes that indiscriminate shooting of seals in Scotland has played its part and must be stopped. An estimated 3-5,000 seals are shot by fishermen perfectly legally in Scottish waters every year, persecuted for the 'crime' of eating fish. There is no scientific evidence to justify claims that seals are threats to fish stocks when human over-fishing clearly is. For example, decades of mass culling in Canada has not led to any recovery in cod stocks. The SPAG argues that solution to any 'rogue' seals predating on fish farms or in sports fishing rivers is to employ appropriate non-lethal anti-predator devices such as adequately tensioned and maintained nets. Unfortunately, all too often the bullet is the cheapest and preferred solution. The aim of the ‚ÄòSaving Scottish Seals‚Äô campaign is to: *Raise public awareness about Scotland‚Äôs secret slaughter *Lobby the UK Government and Scottish Government to create legislation that provides full protection for our globally important seal populations *Encourage the Scottish fishing industry to employ non lethal predator control methods *Work with UK retailers to ensure that their suppliers of Scottish salmon do not shoot seals or other predators In order to achieve the campaign aims, SPAG requires ¬£8,000 of funding for campaign resources including flyers, posters, advertisements in magazines, material for events.
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