Scotland has taken a huge leap forward with its new bill that has now become law banning the killing of seals by fishermen.
Every year an overwhelming number of seals are shot dead in Scotland by fishermen to “protect” their fisheries and commercial fish farms from the animals.
The Humane Society International (HSI) who keeps track of the number of seals killed every year says a “significant number” of seals are killed every year.
The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections, and Powers) (Scotland) Bill was approved by the Scottish Parliament that recently passed will now put an end to the unnecessary killing of seals.
The new bill actually amends the Marine Scotland Act of 2010 repealing the ability to grant licenses that allow fish farms and fisheries to shoot seals to “protect” their fish.
The new ban will definitely have a positive impact on the animal welfare of the seals but the HSI points out that it is linked to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act’s regulatory requirements.
The U.S. regulations come into effect starting in 2022 and the requirements would not allow Scotland to export salmon to the U.S. if in the next two years the shooting of seals continues.
The Scottish government places estimates of seals shot since 2011 at a staggering 2,000 plus.
HSI says the actual number is likely much higher due to fishers not reporting the deaths. There is currently no way to independently verify any of the kills.
Humane Society International also adds that shooting the seals doesn’t always lead to a quick and painless death. Often the seals suffering is prolonged and cruel but that is also why the fishers don’t report them to add to the official statistics.
A female seal called a Cow was also allowed to be shot under the previous law and licensing even if she had dependent seal pups (babies).
“An alarming number of seals are shot and killed in Scottish waters, There is evidence that some are likely to be injured and die a slow and painful death at sea.” said HSI’s senior marine scientist Mark Simmonds OBE in a statement.
He added that the ban on seal shooting is “critically important for seal welfare in British waters.”
The new bill also states that the penalty for shooting a seal illegally has increased to a £40,000 fine with perpetrators receiving a possible prison sentence that can be up to one year. They can also receive an “unlimited fine” or up to five years in prison likely dependent on a judge’s discretion.
There are two species of seals in the UK; the gray seal that is actually rare and the more common harbor seal.
The UK is home to 40 percent of the world population of grey seals so this new law will help to make a big impact on the endangered seal’s population.
“We share our seas with these charismatic marine mammals,” said Simmonds. “It is simply unacceptable to kill them for eating the fish in their ocean home.”
That’s the reality, isn’t it? It’s not our fish or our ocean. If anything the seals own those more than we do.
It’s beautiful to see the world slowly changing to understanding and compassion to coexist with our fellow earthlings.
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