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Seals in Scottish waters will have more legal protection under the Marine (Scotland) Bill which was today passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Following an intensive campaign by Advocates for Animals, the Bill, which replaces the outdated Conservation of Seals Act 1970, was today strengthened and passed.
- Seals can no longer be shot without a license to do so
- A requirement to use non-lethal methods of excluding or deterring seals before a seal license is granted
- Welfare conditions are to be placed on licenses meaning that seals cannot be shot: by untrained marksmen; in bad visibility; from over a set distance away; from an unstable platform; and measures must be taken to reduce the risk of seals suffering unnecessarily when shot. The type of firearm which must be used is specified and there are conditions regarding the recovery of carcasses.
- The law specifies that the Government can prohibit the killing of seals at certain times such as the breeding seasons when seals may be heavily pregnant or have dependent pups
- Seals are protected from intentional or reckless harassment at a haul-out site
- The numbers of seals killed under a license must be reported quarterly
- The licensing regime will be formally reviewed every five years
- The Bill increases the penalties for killing, injuring or taking a seal, in line with other wildlife legislation.
Advocates for Animals ideally wanted a complete ban on killing any seals, especially during their breeding seasons – such a move would have been supported by 75% of people in Scotland.
Advocates for Animals’ supporters sent over 21,000 messages to MSPs in the last 10 days asking them to vote for better legal protection for seals.
Queen rock legend Brian May and TV naturalists Chris Packham and Terry Nutkins are among the high-profile people who have supported Advocates for Animals’ campaign.