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.