News today

« Trident whistleblower backed by former naval commander | Main | Bhopal: the long flight from justice »


Herman lankwarden

Afther Reading the stories above and already know that this was happening over the last view months. We have desided not to go on holliday to Scotland this year. Maybe we will next year but only when this stops. If not, were not going to Scotland in the future anymore.

Bob Archell

Sometime ago the BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) commissioned Dr Sue Wilson a "proper seal Expert" to review all available data on Seal and Fishery Interactions.. Her report (still available as a download from the BDMLR website) is compelling evidence that strong seal populations produce strong fish stocks.. Seals are opportunists they don't just eat salmon exclusively, they eat a lot of other predator species that reduce the stocks of fish that other commercial fishermen want to catch.. So just like "gardeners" doing the weeding seals improve the strength of fish stocks. Its "over-fishing" that creates the issues not nature. Ask the Canadians about it because culling hundreds of thousands of seals still has "not" returned Cod Stocks to what they were.. No, its the fishing that need to be controlled, not nature's fragile food chains..

Its too simplistic to shoot seals just because they are near a net, the "netsman's defence" within the so called Protection of Seals Act is a crass excuse to carry out "culling" (which may be a contravention of EU Habitat Directives) because when you shoot a seal another will simply take its place and so on, and so on, so its an uncontrolled cull in disguise and especially if you are luring them to the nets with a big bag of food...

Dr Wilson and I successfully challenged an application for a shooter to shoot seals around his trawl in ESSEX, as far as I know the shooter who was backed by BASC lawyers never challenged the objections we raised, which was "inability" to identify species. Sometimes its very difficult for even experts to differentiate between harbour seals and grey seals which are protected at different times under the Act by way of Close Seasons. There have even been cases of "divers" black hoods bobbing up and being misidentified and shot at!

So Scotland's decision makers should start to use some "joined up" thinking on this issue and not simply rely on only one source of academia that is majorly funded from commercial interests in Scotland..

These companies need to invest in "nature" friendly methods because its not just seals that are being killed around these nets, they should not be allowed to simply destroy one part of natures complexity to benefit them when leaving nature alone actually benefits nature and other fishermen.

As a final point, the Devon and Cornwall Police Constabulary have conducted trial shooting with appropriate weapons by firearm's experts and found that there is "significant" risk to public in these shootings. None of the high powered ammunition manufacturers recommend the ammunitions use near open water. A deflected round from a weapon can travel very long distances and with lethal force. If I were on holiday there with my kids, I would not feel very safe with these guys "banging away" at the local wildlife.

There are so many things wrong with this activity, and Scotland should put a stop to it..

Bob Archell, former Trustee and Director BDMLR and co sponsor of Dr Sue Wilson's excellent Report on Seals and Fishery Interactions Problems and Solutions.

dorothy bothwell

I happened to be in Crovie on holiday in June and could see the confrontations taking place. I do support Sea Shepherd, but had no idea that the group would be there. USAN employees, sit in full view of the public, with rifle, ready to shoot seals. Crovie is a beautiful and unspoilt place, but this kind of behaviour from the fishermen is unpleasant and does little to encourage tourists to the area. Surely we wish to sell this beautiful country of ours on the basis of its glorious scenery and wildlife - without letting children witness a seal being shot in the head, and the bloodstained water. The ocean is the seals' environment, and they eat fish. How can anyone endorse such brutal behaviour?

Rob Edwards

Many thanks, Suzanne.

Suzanne Kelly, Aberdeen Voice contributor

Hello Rob; thanks for a balanced detailed piece. I went out with USAN once; it's true they don't talk to many journalists, but I wanted to see how it all works. Salmon, large, small, male, female, young, old are trapped in over 16 nets in the Montrose Basin; it's hard to believe any fish can make it past the nets at all. All are hauled up onto the boats, and as they are terrified and gasping for breath, they wait their turn to have their heads beaten with wooden sticks. Sometimes they don't die right away after that assault. I hadn't quite gone off fish before that day - I'll never touch another fish again, and am now vegetarian trying to go wholly vegan. USAN knows they are forbidden to shoot in Gardenstown/Crovie on land the laird owns, but they walk the town with rifles anyway. The wild salmon stock levels will not sustain this level of fishing in my opinion, even if there have been some no fish areas agreed this season. I've done my research on both sides - and concluded we are lucky Sea Shepherd is here. As to tourist trade, USAN operatives shot a seal in front of tourists in Gardenstown one year; the tourists unsurprisingly packed and left. Always enjoy your coverage.

The comments to this entry are closed.