Sep 042015

George Pullar of USAN by Suzanne KellyWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

The Pullar family, operators of USAN and it’s subsidiary the Scottish Wild Salmon Company, recently entered guilty pleas on nine charges of salmon conservation legislation breaches and USAN now has a criminal record.

Salmon and other fish are confronted in Montrose with a vast system of huge ‘leader’ nets that direct fish straight into the bag nets until eventually they are hauled onto a boat, and as they panic and suffer, are clubbed to death.

It is a hard thing to witness. But there are other casualties in those nets that suffer and die.

Jenny Green of the Hunt Saboteurs Association shared her observations:

“Coastal salmon netting season ended at midnight on the 31st of August. All equipment had to be out of the water by then. The Scottish government is banning coastal salmon netting after this season, because salmon numbers are at their worst for 40 years. This is an excellent result for us in terms of our Seal Defence Campaign because if there are no nets in the water, Usan can’t claim to need to shoot seals to protect the salmon in those nets.

“The recent court case saw Usan plead guilty to breaking netting regulations in previous seasons and they were charged with 9 offences, and fined £7000.

“Usan had their leader nets in the water after the 6pm Friday night weekend close time (known as keep-ins) – the rule is in place for salmon conservation purposes.

“Usan, now guilty of 9 counts of breaching salmon conservation legislation will not be netting again for many years. Indeed, when they do apply to start up netting again, it’s going to be very difficult because in order to get netting permission they’ll have to prove salmon sustainability…. And you can’t count wild fish.

“So it looks like they are not going to be salmon netters for a very long time. However, during the protracted court case, which lasted all summer, Usan continued to miss weekend close times. In court it was said by the judge that Usan will not be prosecuted by the Crown for 2015 illegal keep-ins. Apparently, as netting is stopping after this season, it’s said to be an obsolete point.

“I find this ridiculous. To me it’s like saying it’s ok to burgle a shop because it’s going out of business anyway. Seal Guardian Campaign operatives submitted 34 videos of illegal keep-ins over the last 5 months to Blair Wilkie, wildlife crime officer for the Angus region. She could choose to prosecute, but apparently she has chosen not to.

“The wild salmon are not the only casualties of netting operations. My pictures show some of the birds drowned in these leader nets, including an adult puffin and a guillemot. I took the pictures with an underwater/submarine ROV. These protected sea birds drowned in a net that was sunk at Scurdieness, adjacent to the protected sea bird haven of the Montrose basin.

“How such a death trap was allowed to be sunk in a site of special scientific interest, adjacent to an internally important and protected sea bird haven for decades is a question the council and SNH both say isn’t in their remit. This net drowned hundreds of protected sea birds. Both were asked why Usan were allowed to put a net here unchallenged, and both said it was down to the other organisation.”

Some 34 instances Usan nets fishing out of hours, constituting wildlife crime, were brought to the attention of wildlife officer Blair Wilkie – no action seems to have been taken to bring cases whatsoever. She could push to prosecute these crimes, but isn’t doing so. Aberdeen Voice asked for an explanation, and was directed to Police Scotland media relations.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said,

“Police Scotland can confirm that information has been received in relation to concerns regarding salmon netting in the Montrose area and enquiries into the matter are ongoing. Police Scotland is committed to the investigation of wildlife crime and reports of criminality are taken very seriously. Wildlife crime is any act that is made illegal in Scotland under legislation with regard to certain birds, animals, aquatic life and plants including their habitats, both on land and in water.

“Such crimes cause significant harm to the species targeted by the criminals, as well as the communities who rely on wildlife for employment and tourism.

“All reports of wildlife crime will be investigated by Police Scotland and appropriate action will be taken. Extensive investigations into these matters can often be challenging and complex, requiring a multi-agency approach, with input and assistance from specialists within partner agencies, including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“Our aim is to reduce wildlife crime and we ask the public to report any concerns or suspicious activity to Police Scotland on 101. In an emergency contact 999.”

More information on wildlife crime can be found on the Police Scotland website at”

John Robins of Animal Concern commented:

“Usan should be prosecuted for their repeated blatant breaches of wildlife conservation law. They profited from the fish they caught illegally and if they are not prosecuted it is proof that crime pays. It is all the more sinister when you realise that Usan Director, George Pullar, is a Government Advisor on wildlife conservation law. Has this helped him evade prosecution?

“Wildlife crime can be difficult to detect and prosecute so it is all the more galling to see such well documented crimes go unpunished. Hunt Saboteur operatives put themselves at great risk to collect this evidence. They deserve their day in court.”

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Jun 192015

Sea Shepherd is welcomed to Gardenstown and Crovie by residents and landowner Marc Ellington – who expressly forbids anyone from shooting seals while on his lands. Why then are these men there with guns trying to kill seals? Sea Shepherd explains. With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Jessie Treverton and camera vs seal shooter with gun courtesy of Sea ShepherdBefore you tuck into your wild salmon fillet or smoked salmon sandwich, you might want to consider some other factors bringing that fish to your dinner plate. Birds are often caught and killed in the nets; other fish are trapped, and the Scottish government permits the salmon industry to kill thousands of seals.

The salmon are hauled onto the deck of a boat, gasping and terrified, they are clubbed to death as they suffocate.

Seals were shot in the beautiful, historic coastal village of Gardenstown one year in front of tourists who promptly packed and left, upset by what they had seen.

The town wants its tourists; they come for the wildlife and unspoiled scenery. But not all visitors to Gardenstown are wildlife lovers. Sea Shepherd reports on its latest encounter in the area:

“Seal Defence Campaign Update – Crovie (Gamrie Bay) on 17th June 2015.

“This evening Sea Shepherd’s Seal Defence crew were confronted by two of the Directors/Owners of Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd together with their usual gunman/skipper. The three senior Usan representatives carried two firearms between them, one of which was uncased and ready to shoot seals during the incident which lasted 1.5 hours.

“This is the first time the main directors of the company have travelled to Crovie as they rarely leave their main base at Fishtown of Usan near Montrose. This obvious escalation comes just two days after our crew faced two of their gunmen on the same coastal rocks.

“Our Seal Defence Crew held fast and no seals were killed. In response to this Sea Shepherd will be increasing crew numbers and is bringing in new assets to the area.”

Aberdeen Voice wrote to USAN’s George Pullar today to remind him that his is not allowed to shoot from Ellington’s land. Pullar was also asked to comment on reports that the would-be shooters claim ‘a farmer’ has given them permission.  Ellington has no idea who would be in a position to grant this permission. We will print any reply received.

sea shepherd keeps watchful eye on would be seal shooters courtesy of Sea Shephers

Sea Shepherd keeps watchful eye on would be seal shooters. Courtesy of Sea Shepherd

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