Wildlife Campaigners Demand Supermarkets Protect Seals

As scientific research revealing a “frightening” fall in the numbers of common seals around the UK coast, wildlife campaigners are calling on high street retailers to help protect them by insisting their Scottish salmon suppliers stop shooting seals.

Scientists from the Sea Mammal research Unit (SMRU) have described the decline in seals as ‘frightening’ but are uncertain as to its cause. However the Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) believes that the indiscriminate shooting of an estimated 5,000 seals each year in Scottish waters has played its part and must be stopped.

The UK’s globally important populations of common and grey seals can be shot perfectly legally under the Conservation of Seals Act (1970). This outdated legislation makes it perfectly legal to shoot seals to prevent ‘damage’ to fish farm equipment or stock.

Campaigners believe that salmon farmers can deter seals and other predators by using non-lethal methods such as properly maintained, tensioned nets and other devices, without resorting to lethal methods. Unfortunately, the bullet is all too often seen as the easiest and cheapest option.

The Seal Protection Action Group has written to all High Street retailers calling on them to insist that their suppliers of Scottish salmon stop seal shooting, and to stipulate this in their supply contracts. For example, Sainsbury’s have recently signed a multi-million pound supply contract with Marine Harvest, a Norwegian company that operates many salmon farms in Scotland. Marine Harvest has been implicated in several incidents involving the shooting of seals, most recently reported in the Independent on Sunday on May 25th 2008.

“This culture of killing must stop and we are calling on the retailers to use their considerable purchasing power to persuade Scottish salmon producers to stop shooting seals’ said Andy Ottaway of SPAG, ‘We are also calling on the public to avoid Scottish salmon unless they can be assured that no seals have been killed. Our seals are disappearing and we must act now before it is too late.’

For further details about the campaign please visit www.sealaction.org

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