Apr 212014

seal_photo With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Operatives of a marine conservation charity claim to have been threatened by potential seal shooters.
On Easter Monday Aberdeen Voice spoke with a Sea Shepherd observer who claims there is a video showing the seal hunters physically intimidating those who would stop any shooting.

It is understood the police are investigating.

The state of play is a far cry from USAN’s George Pullar’s promise to use non-lethal measures.

Many in Scotland were unhappy at this commercial firm moving into the area to net salmon and trout; now it seems their promises have already been broken.

USAN is the parent company of Scottish Wild Salmon Company. Aberdeen Voice has left phone messages and emailed for comments on this development, but the company has not responded.

Potential shooters are alleged to claim they will take any opportunity they can to kill seals. Sea Shepherd likewise says it will remain present 24/7 during the season and will document any illegal shooting – or harrrassment – that takes place.

Sea Shepherd UK (SSUK) have deployed seal defence teams to Gardenstown, Banffshire to protect iconic Scottish Seals from being shot by killers from the Scottish Wild Salmon Company.

Over the Easter holiday last year (2013) it was widely reported in local press that the Scottish Wild Salmon Company had been indiscriminately killing seals in and around Gamrie Bay.

The Laird of Gardenstown and Crovie, Marc Ellington DL expressed concern over both the unnecessary killing and the resultant damage to an already fragile local tourist industry and wished SSUK every success to ensure that Easter Weekend this year resulted in zero kills.

From reports detailing the 2013 seal slaughter, SSUK quickly realised that they would need undercover personnel on the ground in advance of any deployment to gain information on the movements of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company’s seal killing team.

news-140417-1-3-Sea-Shepherd-UK-Taking-Action-to-Defend-Scottish-Seals-800wSSUK’s own covert operatives were already engaged in other areas of Scotland where seal killing is taking place and our intent was to make sure our main seal defence group was very high profile in Gardenstown and Crovie.

We therefore took the opportunity to join forces with the Hunt Saboteurs Association for this seal defence action.

Following their successful campaign against the English Badger Cull it was clear that the HSA had the necessary skills to assist us with this task and were willing to put themselves at risk from the seal killers in order to help us achieve our zero kill aim.

Since arriving in the area the HSA undercover team have ranged across the territory on foot monitoring seal kill zones from beaches, hillsides and treacherous cliff-top locations often in extreme weather conditions.

The intelligence gathered has allowed SSUK to develop an effective plan for seal protection should the Scottish Wild Salmon Company be outrageous enough to attempt another seal slaughter either in full view of the public or hidden from view in less accessible places.

SSUK personnel are now in position in Gardenstown and Crovie with a Sea Shepherd RIB designed for inshore work of this nature.

They also have access to the full Sea Shepherd range of surveillance equipment including remotely operated drones and hidden camera devices if necessary. The command team on the ground are in routine contact with all relevant authorities as well as Crimestoppers and a network of local observers and activists.

news-140417-1-4-Sea-Shepherd-UK-Taking-Action-to-Defend-Scottish-Seals-800wSSUK will be operating in the area for as long as necessary to ensure that the Scottish Wild Salmon Company obey the law and do not kill any seals this Easter.

SSUK is also investigating other firms in Scotland who may be illegally killing seals and would encourage any concerned members of the public to contact us at report@seashepherduk.org if they suspect any criminal intent towards marine wildlife.

Aberdeen Voice is grateful for permission to reproduce text and pictures from the Sea Shepherd UK official website.

Update on SSUK site – http://www.seashepherd.org.uk/news-and-media/2014/04/21/violent-seal-killers-threaten-sea-shepherd-crew-caught-on-camera-1576

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  20 Responses to “Conservationists Threatened By Seal Hunters”

  1. Very interesting article, thank you Suzanne and Aberdeen Voice. I’m quite stretched at the moment but I’ve given a donation to Sea Shepherd UK and Hunt Saboteurs Association. I would like to ask other readers to please make donations also, even a small amount helps and you get a nice feeling from knowing that you’ve done something to help.

    Below are the webpages where you will find the donate buttons/web links:



  2. The fact that these aggressive people have access to firearms is worrying. If they have started threatening people, I think they should be disarmed at once.

    • Let me assure you, the folk from Usan Fisheries are not aggressive. In fact quite the opposite.

      • evidence please Duncan; for the evidence on film is quite to the contrary

  3. George Pullar of Scottish Wild Salmon Company responds:

    “Firstly, there is no use of lethal measures at the Ythan [SUZANNE notes – I had a conversation with someone in the Ythan area who said the area was likewise being targeted, and I am trying to learn more] and in fact we have opted to refrain from exercising our netting rights there. Only the rod and line fishery is to be operated at the Ythan. Sea Shepherd are targeting our operation at Gardenstown, which is an entirely separate location.

    “In response to your concerns, please be assured that we are going about our lawful business and are fully complying with all seal licence conditions, firearms legislation and the heritable title we have to fish for salmon. This, despite considerable provocation from Sea Shepherd who are known for their extreme actions. We note you have already uploaded an article on the Aberdeen Voice. This is a great pity as it is clear you only have one side of the story and that is inaccurate. Our staff are being constantly stalked and harassed by Sea Shepherd crew. We have met with both Police Scotland and Sea Shepherd representatives, in an attempt to resolve matters. Sea Shepherd have made it clear that they consider themselves as under a ‘higher law’ despite clear warnings from the police, that we are not to be impeded from carrying out our lawful business and that Scottish Law applies here. Today, 22 April, on arrival at the pier, our law abiding staff were faced by a large group of activists, wearing face masks, knuckledusters and combat gear. Clearly, the intent was to intimidate – surely such extremism has no place in modern Scotland. The police have been advised.

    “Unfortunately, Sea Shepherd have chosen to sensationalise and misrepresent the issue for their own ends. To be clear, we deploy Acoustic Deterrent Devices wherever possible and have done so at Gardenstown. We have invested considerable resources in strengthening our fishing gear to further deter seal attack and are currently in discussions with Scottish Government to determine what additional non lethal measures can be deployed to avoid the need for lethal control – lethal methods are very much a last resort. To that end, in order to reduce tensions we will remove all firearms from our operation and will continue dialogue with Scottish Government involving the Sea Mammal Research Unit, to garner support and direct assistance to further expand non lethal measures.

    “Please also be aware that we are mindful of our very strong legal rights and will defend these to the fullest extent of the law. Given the ongoing significant and unwarranted harassment we are suffering, through online media, email and face to face, giving rise to the potential of legal action, it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment.”

    Yours faithfully
    George Pullar, Director

    • Suzanne, is this a responce directly to you or a quote from elsewhere?

      • why does it matter? It is his words. It is directly to me in an email for that matter.

      • It matters because to a casual reader it appears that you have interviewed him.

      • sorry, you’re losing me here: these are the man’s written words in response to an email I sent. His comments are black and white. If I had interviewed him, which I’d be more than willing to do, do you think he’d have said something different? Please do explain what point you’re trying to make. It is almost as if you’re implying I’m somehow trying to mislead the ‘casual reader’ by presenting them with Pullar’s words.

  4. Please excuse my ignorance on such an important issue when I say that I am simply astounded that the netting of wild salmon is still being carried out on such a scale in Scottish river estuaries. Given the acknowledged fragility of wild salmon stocks, I had simply assumed there to be legislation in place to prevent such widespread harvesting of Atlantic wild salmon.

    Allegations of the slaughter of seals, by the use of firearms and for the purpose of accommodating the already questionable practice of widespread commercial salmon – netting, must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly, as should allegations of intimidation towards the allegedly gun – toting fishermen.

    Does anyone know what the anglers, who take such care to try to preserve salmon stocks , have to say about the activities of USAN?

  5. I find it odd that the wild salmon fisheries are coming in for such a bad press. The industry is centuries old and despite the fact that many of us can choose to avoid eating those foods which we disapprove of, others decide otherwise.
    Obviously if you are against the eating of fish then I understand. If you are a river fisherman or indeed a fan of fish suppers that is quite a different story.
    George’s dad Dave recently told me “I have had many folk in my kitchen who go off to write bad press about the Salmon fishing afterward. They should look to what the big estates are doing really. That is where the problem lies.”
    Why not target the consumer rather than the likes of Usan. Perhaps market forces will end the conflict between the catcher and the folk who object to the protection of the netting.
    In many ways, the Usan Fisheries are continuing a heritage industry.

    • the situation at hand is far from centuries old Duncan. You can still have salmon without shooting seals 🙂 Target the consumer? be my guest. This article is about what is going on now at Gardenstown. Feel free to write a factual piece of your own.

      • Not sure where you are from Suzanne but from a Scottish perspective the netting of salmon is a heritage occupation.

      • Well Duncan, my nationality may be of interest to you, but it is not relevant. But I’ve lived here for over 10 years. I’ve lived here long enough to know that if you don’t have the landowner’s permission – which those involved in the shooting don’t have – you can’t legally shoot from the owner’s property. This was made clear last year when the shooters killed a seal in front of tourists who promptly cancelled their Gardenstown stay, and it was made clear again this year. Salmon netting on a sustainable scale, without illegally shooting seals (and there are non-lethal deterrents) is part of Scotland’s heritage. But new developments such as the cruelty of salmon farming and the modern methodology at play here have no business in any compassionate society. Are you saying that only people from a particular national background have the right to criticise or the ability to understand that nation? Does this mean we should allow the Japanese to whale because they claim (incorrectly) it is their ‘heritage’, or that bear bile, rhino horn and other traditional medicines should be allowed to continue because of national tradition?

  6. The Salmon netting companies in particular USAN trading as Scottish Wild Salmon Company receive a bad press because of their methodology which includes netting in estuaries where Salmon are returning to breed in already depleted rivers. Shooting seals (in Crovie in front of children and tourists who have vowed never to return). They have lied constantly about their intentions. Have intimidated protestors with threats of violence and filled their pockets, without return to the communities they plunder.
    Anglers on The Ythan are in uproar that this river who’s stocks were depleted of fish by farming methods which filled the river with algae and starved it of light and oxygen.
    River management are in uproar because they have done sterling work in improving the water quality and stocking the river. We are in uproar because they still intend to disrupt the biggest seal population in the area. (Anglers have been told to buy seal scarers) and though they say they will remove firearms from their operation still refuse to give up their cull licences and firearms licences.
    Their methods are both unsustainable and unsavoury.
    Ythan anglers on the other hand have done their bit for the river ecology. Returning the majority of their catch and enjoying a symbiotic relationship with other river users including our magnificent seal population.
    Just because something has happened for hundreds of years doesn’t mean it’s right. We had to fight against such arguments to overcome the death penalty.

  7. This Statement just in from Sea Shepherd:
    Update on the meeting today between Sea shepherd and The scottish wild salmon company. Sea shepherd UK went to the table with as good an offer as its possible for us to make and asked only that the Scottish wild salmon company hands back its licences and ceases to kill seals.

    The Scottish wild salmon company have asked for a week to consider our offer and have promised that they will kill no seals during that period.
    For the sake of the good people of Gardenstown and local relations Sea shepherd suggested that the HSA depart from the town and this has now happened. Sea shepherd are hugely grateful to the HSA for all they have done in Gardenstown towards our mutual cause of stopping seals being killed. Huge respect to the members involved who conducted themselves with restraint even when employees of Scottish wild salmon company provocatively turned up at our beach clean up today.

    Sea shepherd hugely appreciates the wonderful response from our supporters in putting pressure on the Harbour trust regarding the invoice for filming, this has now been resolved and we would ask that no more emails, tweets or comments are sent to them. The Harbour trustees have acted nobly and relations are now good between Sea shepherd and the harbour.

    We urge seal lovers across the world to come together and (politely) make it very clear to the Scottish government and the Scottish wild salmon company that shooting protected seals under any circumstances is totally unacceptable. With your help and support we can bring an end to this senseless and unnecessary killing!

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