As with seals the world over, so too are Scotland’s seals under needless persecution from a vindictive and misinformed fishing/aquaculture industry. Although the government denies a “seal cull,” they have licensed the shooting of over 1 300 seals. If a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, then the stench of this mass slaughter undoubtedly reeks of a cull.
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Background to Scottish seal cull
Seals were hunted by early man on a sustainable basis for thousands of years. With the rise of modern civilizations, seals became a particular target of the fashion industry and large scale hunting began taking place.
Grey seals were hunted to such an extent that by the beginning of the 20th century Scotland’s population was on the verge of extinction with as few as 500 individuals being reported. (Scientist and historians suspect the actual figure was more in the region of 1 500 animals.) The UK’s first piece of legislation aimed at protecting mammals, the Grey Seals Protection Act, was passed in 1914.
Tragically, it was this piece of legislation that opened doors for the common seal (aka harbour seal) to be hunted and thousands upon thousands were brutally slaughtered for the fur industry. In 1970 the British government passed the Conservation of Seals Act.
Sadly this Act was not worth the paper it was written on and in 40 years the only single prosecution that resulted from it was based on a technicality.
In 2007 animal welfare and conservation groups raised issue with the thousands of seals that were being killed by the fishing, fish farming and salmon angling industries. The Conservation of Seals Act was subsequently repealed and in 2010 deliberations began on what was to become the Marine (Scotland) Act.
This Act was strongly influenced by the fishing and aquaculture industries who applied their collective powers to sway weak politicians and the internal processes leading up to its enactment became cloaked in secrecy and lacked any form of transparency.
What transpired, the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, is a piece of legislation which enables the Scottish government to issue licences for over 1 300 seals to be shot. This is done via Marine Scotland who claim it is a measure of last resort to protect the aquaculture industry.
However, since no alternatives to shooting are ever investigated and there is no organization or ruling body to verify these “last resorts” we are of the opinion that Marine Scotland simply issues these licences in a manner that can be likened to a free for all death squad. This opinion is shared by several leading organizations and conservation groups.
Sadly, the industry that benefits the most from the seals is the one that is silent in the face of this disgrace. Tourism organizations have done precious little to raise their concerns against the Scottish seal cull. This is despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of tourists take great delight in seeing these sentient creatures.
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