THE SALMON industry must go back to reporting the number of seals shot by individual salmon farms after a ruling by the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Two years ago the Scottish government was forced to release information about seals shot at each salmon farm after a Freedom of Information request by animal rights campaigner Don Staniford.
However last year the government stopped publishing the data, claiming to do so would create a “significant risk of accidental injury to campaigners if they seek to get between licenced seal shooters and seals”.
This week the commissioner ordered the government to release the information by 21 August, after a campaign by Staniford’s Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA). “This is a landmark victory,” Staniford claimed, describing it as “a shot in the arm for freedom of information and a shot across the bows of the bloody Scottish salmon farming industry”.
He said he would now be writing again to the US government calling for a ban on importing farmed Scottish salmon, saying it was illegal under the country’s Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Welcoming the decision, fellow campaigner John Robins, of the Save Our Seals Fund, added: “It is vitally impoirtant for the public to know which salmon suppliers are killing seals in order ro make ethical consumer choices when shopping.”
David Sandison, manager of the Scottish Salmon Producer Organisation’s Shetland office, said they had “no problem” with the commissioner’s decision.
“We work within a licensing regime and we fully comply with all its requirements,” he said.
Two years ago it emerged that the Shetland industry had reported the killing of 140 seals during the previous two years.
However since then there has been major investment in techniques to prevent seals from harming caged fish.