For those of you who were following the HSA Seal Guardian Campaign, which spanned 2014 and 2015, and was the HSA's longest running full-time campaign being a daily operation covering six months last summer, we have an amazing update to share:
The Scottish Government have finally formally announced a THREE YEAR BAN on coastal wild salmon netting!
This is a major victory because with no nets in the water, Usan Salmon Fisheries aka the Scottish Wild Salmon Company can't claim to need to shoot seals in order to protect those salmon nets! Usan have been shooting seals for four decades, so this truly is a landmark victory! History has been made! And there's more!
The coastal netting ban means that wild salmon can now travel up the east coast without running the gauntlet of 14 nets in a ten mile stretch of coast to get to their home rivers for breeding. Tens of thousands of salmon will be saved! Also, as was well documented by us, protected sea birds using their traditional breeding and nesting grounds in and around the Montrose Basin were routinely drowning in the salmon nets, as a result of their feet or wings getting caught. They can now exist in peace, free from the life-threatening hazards that were the coastal salmon nets! So this win is a huge result for the seals, the sea birds and the salmon!
The Scottish Government were under pressure from the EU to halt coastal salmon netting, because salmon numbers are at an all-time low. They were talking about making a decision within the next five years. With evidence gathered by us and submitted to relevant authorities and stakeholders, along with awareness-raising and media interested created, we have forced change now! This leaves Usan with the creel pot side of their business.
Since the salmon season closed last autumn, expecting repercussions for their behaviour (they were charged with netting out of permitted hours, and also copped a huge fine from the HMRC for not declaring all their catch) they have increased the creel pot side of the business in lieu of their lost salmon business. They have increased the number of pots they usually sink ten-fold, going after the crabs and lobsters of the east coast. They have tried to argue that they still need to shoot seals, this time to protect their creel pots, but so far have not been issued a licence for that.
It is ridiculous, as seals can not rip into creel pots. But as Kevin Pullar himself said, they just "love killing seals", so it doesn't surprise us that they will try any excuse to continue to do so. We will of course fight them all the way on obtaining a licence to shoot to protect creel pots. The only other interest they have now is the Ythan River fishing rights. A well-established seal population hauls out at the Ythan, and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to have this haul-out site awarded protection. Results for this are imminent.
We have more legal stuff against the Pullars of Usan and their pals in the pipeline, and will update on these cases when able. We continue to work with various agencies, stakeholders and locals to secure the best permanent result for the wildlife of Scotland's coasts.
On Tuesday 26th Jan West Midland Hunt Saboteurs again filmed the Atherstone hunt illegally chasing and killing a fox after meeting in Osbaston, Leicestershire.
Hunt sabs noticed a member of the hunt was off their horse near a hedge with the hounds near a stream. One of the hounds still had the recently killed fox in its mouth. The body was recovered by saboteurs and has been taken for an autopsy.
Immediately after the kill Huntsman Stuart Barton carried on hunting as if nothing had happened, even hunting the hounds on when they got on to the scent of another fox.
Video of the incident can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/West-Midlands-Hunt-Saboteurs-243223759156039
Full footage has not yet been released as it has been presented to Leicestershire police.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated:
“It is hard to believe there is a hunt more blatantly flouting the law than the Atherstone. Despite being consistently filmed chasing foxes by West Mids sabs they are able to get away with it due to a lack of action by Leicestershire police. Tax payers from Leicestershire must feel slightly perturbed that in times of austerity their money is being used to fund private security for this bunch of law breakers.
We ask Simon Cole, Chief Constable for Leicestershire police, for an enquiry into the policing of the Atherstone hunt and why they aren’t being prosecuted for their law breaking. If it isn’t institutional bias on the part of Leicestershire police then it is particular officers who need disciplining.”
On Saturday the Atherstone Hunt spent all day chasing numerous foxes including through peoples back gardens whilst assaulting two of the people trying to save them:
Last month they were filmed chasing and killing a fox near Grendon Fields Farm, Grendon which the police are currently investigating
The Hunt Saboteurs Association is unsurprised to learn that the Eton College Beagles are facing allegations of illegal hunting following an undercover investigation.
Over two years ago, the HSA exclusively revealed that Eton College was planning to hold a 'Young Hare Hunters Day' on its premises. Organised by bloodsports group the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles, the event was designed to introduce vulnerable Eton pupils to all aspects of hare hunting. The event was cancelled at the last minute when the HSA organised a peaceful demonstration at the college.
HSA Press Officer Lee Moon commented, "Eton College have serious questions to answer. Today their spokesman has claimed that the college 'takes its legal responsibilities extremely seriously and expects all school activities to comply with the law.' Why then did it allow a 'Young Hare Hunters Day' at the college just two years ago? Today we have released a copy of the booking form for the event so the public can make up their own minds about what 'lessons' were to be taught at Eton College on 13th October 2013."