The Seals Forum was not a seal protection group (Ministers abandon seal protection group despite growing anger over shooting policy, Environmental News, September 18). It was created to advise the Scottish Government on replacing the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. Of those organisations with a known position on seal killing or seal protection the Forum had three times as many groups actively involved in killing seals and/or in favour of a mass seal cull than bodies promoting seal protection.
After taking advice from the Seals Forum, Government introduced a licence scheme allowing salmon farmers, netters and angling interests to kill seals 365 days a year including breeding seasons when orphaned pups are left to starve to death.
Shooters applied to kill 759 Grey and 399 Common seals in 2016. Government licensed shooting of 283 Greys and 115 Commons. However shooting is not policed and kill figures rely totally on the number of seals shooters admit to shooting.
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Rural Economy Minister Fergus Ewing is wrong to say individual fish farmers must meet the "no seal killing" rule being enforced by the American Government. From 2022, the USA will only allow imports from countries where it is against the law for salmon producers to deliberately kill marine mammals.
Mr Ewing perpetuates a myth created by his predecessors by claiming shooting seals is a last resort. Only 10-20 per cent of salmon farms use proper predator exclusion nets, which are far more expensive than guns and bullets.
There is no point resurrecting the Seals Forum. If Scottish salmon is to be exported to the USA after 2022, the Scottish Government must make it illegal for salmon producers to kill seals. It would also make sense to force salmon farms to install and maintain proper predator exclusion nets. This may have happened years ago if the Seals Forum had not been so heavily biased in favour of seal killing.
John F Robins
Save Our Seals Fund