After two years of active campaigning and incredible risks, Sea Shepherd UK may no longer need to return to the North of Scotland to protect seals, at least for the next three years.
The Scottish Government has announced that starting April 1st, 2016 that:
“Killing outwith estuary limits will be prohibited for three years due to the mixed stock nature of the fishery and limited data on the composition of the catch.”
For the last two years Sea Shepherd UK has actively campaigned to protect Scotland’s Harbour and Grey seals from being killed by the UK’s most notorious seal killers – Scotland’s wild salmon netting companies, in particular Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd (AKA Scottish Wild Salmon Company). They shot more seals than all the Scottish fish farms put together prior to Sea Shepherd small boats and crews arriving in April 2014.
Whatever the reasoning for this rapid change in policy… actual concern for wild salmon stocks – or (together with) the Scottish government feeling the pressure due to Sea Shepherd UK’s Seal Defence campaign on the Caithness and Aberdeenshire/Moray coast together with the Hunt Saboteurs Association seal campaign on the Angus coast – this is welcome news.
This Scottish Government policy change means that Sea Shepherd UK will be able to focus on other reports and evidence of the killing of seals in the UK as well as investigating other sites where marine wildlife crimes have been alleged.
Sea Shepherd UK Director Rob Read said: “With coastal wild salmon netting prohibited for 3 years this ends the legal shooting of seals by such companies and since there will be no ‘fixed engine’ salmon nets in the water it likely ends any illegal shooting of seals, especially as we now have local volunteers watching these coastal locations.”
At the peak of the campaign there were more than 70 international Sea Shepherd volunteers stationed at sites across Scotland.
The volunteers repeatedly clashed with seal shooters in often dramatic scenes, and in August last year the Press and Journal revealed the teams were using drone technology in their battle against marksmen.
Sea Shepherd UK is pursuing several prosecutions for Wildlife Crimes from evidence collected during the 2015 Seal Defence Campaign which was handed over to Police Scotland and is currently with the Procurator Fiscal’s Office.
If you have information about illegal fishing, the killing of marine mammals or illegal destruction/damage to the marine environment please email Sea Shepherd U.K. with details: firstname.lastname@example.org