Apr 102015

Sea Shepherd announces the second year of its Seal Defence Campaign around the coastline and islands of Scotland. By Robert Read – Sea Shepherd UK

sea shepherd seal defense in action courtesy of SSUKSea Shepherd UK (SSUK) have deployed a seal defence crew to Gamrie Bay, Banffshire in the first phase of our 2015 campaign to prevent Scotland’s iconic seals from being killed illegally by coastal netting fishing operations, fish farms or indeed anyone else in Scotland.

This year’s deployment of a seal defence crew and a fast RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) to Gardenstown harbour coincides with the start of the wild salmon netting season as employees of USAN Salmon Fisheries ltd (AKA: Scottish Wild Salmon Company) who operate fixed engine nets either side of Gamrie Bay.

USAN Salmon Fisheries Ltd claimed to have shot a seal before we arrived in 2014 and prevented any further seals being killed at this location for the rest of the 2014.

Sea Shepherd UK’s deployment of a land and boat crew to Gamrie Bay marks only the start of a much larger and wider ranging campaign for 2015 following our success in during 2014.

In 2014 at Gardenstown we were joined early in the campaign by members of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) who had a small team initially in the area on surveillance/intelligence gathering and who then sent a much larger team to provide support following increasing intimidation received from netsmen and their ‘allies’.

Wherever Sea Shepherd operates we always try to recruit local volunteers and find supporters and with the recruiting of local volunteers from Aberdeenshire we were able to expand our 2014 Seal Defence Campaign to Montrose/Lunan Bay then to the Dunnet Bay area in the far north near Thurso where we were able to focus our resources on coastal land and boat patrols for the duration of the 2014 wild salmon netting season.

SSUK’s deployment to the north coast and Orkney Islands was possible in part by the Hunt Saboteurs Association deploying teams in their own successful campaign to protect seals with intensive land based monitoring of the activities of salmon netsmen along the Montrose coastline.

Our patrols by land and sea in 2014 prevented any illegal shooting of seals and indeed any killing of seals where our teams and cameras were watching.

there are effective and proven methods of keeping seals away from netted fish

Sea Shepherd UK’s Seal Defence Campaign 2015 around Scotland will (as in 2014) provide monitoring of the activities of both fish farms and wild salmon/mixed fisheries netting companies which hold licenses from Marine Scotland to shoot seals to protect their catch/profits.

The licenses issued by Marine Scotland which specify numbers of seals, locations and conditions under which seals can be shot (the shooting of seals is always supposed to be a last resort option where all deterrent methods have failed) remains open to abuse by some fishing/fish farm companies with a complete absence of any government monitoring.

Years of successful scientific development and trials of acoustic devices (often called pingers) which keep seals away from coastal and river nets together with the effective use of secondary EcoNets around fish farm pens mean that there are effective and proven methods of keeping seals away from netted fish therefore making the shooting of seals unnecessary under the terms of the Marine Scotland seal shooting permits.

However some companies continue to invest fully in deterrent/ prevention equipment preferring the cheap option of buying bullets instead.

Typically every year over 300 seals are declared as having been shot – but this ‘official’ declared number of seals shot come solely from the companies and individuals who pull the triggers of the guns and Sea Shepherd UK is convinced the real number of seals shot greatly exceeds this official number and some conservation groups have previously claimed up to 2000 grey and common seals are shot around Scotland’s coast.

Sea Shepherd UK calls on Marine Scotland to re-assess their current policies regarding seals due to the proven seal deterrent methods now available and request the cancellation of all licenses.

Due to the continued absence of any proactive government or contracted independent teams tasked with monitoring the activities of these fishing companies – Sea Shepherd UK’s campaign crews will continue to fulfill this role and provide much needed patrols providing information to Police Scotland and water/river bailiffs to enable prosecutions for poaching and any other illegal activities.

our crews will be operating from a number of mainland coastal locations

Our campaign crew will intervene if necessary to prevent the illegal killing or deliberate harassment of iconic Scottish seals which are all protected species under UK and EU legislation.

Sea Shepherd’s 2015 Seal Defence Campaign in Scotland will be significantly larger than our campaign crew of last year already numbering over 60 volunteers joining us at their own expense from around Scotland as well as travelling from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, USA and Chile to help defend Scotland’s seals.

For the next five months our crews will be operating from a number of mainland coastal locations and islands covering areas where seals are currently being shot illegally or allegedly legally under permit from Marine Scotland. Our international crew will be patrolling along the coastline by land and will use Sea Shepherd UK’s fast RIBs as well as being supported by two privately owned/operated vessels.

Sea Shepherd UK is offering a £5000 reward for information, photographic or video evidence which directly leads to the successful prosecution of any individuals or any companies (including their employees, representatives, contractors or agents) for deliberately and illegally killing any marine mammal (including seals) or endangered marine creature around the coastline of the United Kingdom or in UK territorial waters.

To submit information securely and confidentially please e-mail Sea Shepherd UK on: report@seashepherduk.org with as much information as possible including the location, date, time of the offence with clear photographs and/or HQ video when possible.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

  3 Responses to “Sea Shepherd Seal Defence Campaign 2015”

  1. We had a comment from a Mr Murray; it contained unsupported allegations and with these removed, virtually nothing remained, except his comment ‘Oh, poor salmon’. If you would like to send in evidence of anyone harassing anyone (we have evidence of Sea Shepherd being harassed captured on video), or indeed of any ships being rammed, please do send this; we would be interested. Otherwise, your comments are not something we can publish.

  2. Whilst I in no way endorse cruelty or shooting of animals for sport, do we have a moral responsibility to cull for the continued health of the colonies. With the recent evidence of cannibalism by SMRU from St Andrews, have we over protected some species to the detriment of the health and behaviour?


    • Hi Jim, it is possible, but not by any means certain, that cannibalism is to blame http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-31535600 . However, is it necessary for the SNH to decide yet again which animals it wants and doesn’t want, and to start dishing out yet more culling licenses? The only animal that the SNH seems reticent to stop being predatory, greedy and over-reaching is man. Raptor protection is laughable; wild salmon numbers are plummeting, deer, grey squirrels, seals, some birds are all culled with the SNH blessing, happily pleasing the hunting lobby at the same time. In fact, the lines between hunting and SNH goals and perhaps personnel are getting rather blurry, and the wildlife continues to suffer – imo.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>