End Covert Seal Slaughter in Scotland

  • by: Judith B.
  • target: Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Scotland

Grey seals are one of Scotland’s iconic animals, providing enjoyment to locals and tourists alike and forming an essential part of the ocean ecosystem. They used to be shot in their thousands as a perceived threat to fish stocks in an almost unregulated slaughter. Last year, legislation was introduced to reduce the numbers killed.  

Seals are, however, still slaughtered. Fish farmers are allowed to kill seals in a pointless cull which makes little ecological or even economic sense. The shooting is now done in secret, probably to prevent the outcry that would result from the broadcast of any videos.

Sustainable fish farming involves working with ocean wildlife, not against it.  You don’t launch into a slaughter reminiscent of the 19th century because an animal is inconvenient. Instead you either tolerate it or find other solutions, such as physical barriers.

Tell the Scottish Government to end this outdated, unnecessary and brutal slaughter immediately.

We the undersigned ask that put an end to the practice of shooting grey seals as a perceived threat to fish farms or fisheries.

The grey seal population is not a real problem, they form an essential part of Scotland’s marine ecosystems and they are a popular tourist attraction. If fish farmers find the seals inconvenient then the onus is on them to work around the problem – with barriers or by farming elsewhere. Moreover seals are not a threat to wild fish stocks and certainly should not be used as a scapegoat for the results of overfishing. Destroying the seals is a 19th century approach to inconvenient (or perceived to be inconvenient) wild animals and does not belong in today’s Scotland.

The only legitimate reason for culling our native wildlife is when numbers become unsustainable through a lack of natural predators or they pose a genuine threat to human life. Neither applies in the case of grey seals.

It seems that these culls are done in secret, not so much because of the claimed fear of protests, but because of the negative media attention they would attract. This suggests these culls have as much popular support as they make ecological sense – i.e. very little.

It is difficult for the Scots to object to the English badger cull when something just as or more brutal and pointless is happening in our own backyard.

Cutting the number of seals that may be shot each year is a slow way to end the practice. Please take Scotland properly into the 21st century and ban grey seal shooting entirely.

Thank you for your attention.

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