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Nature / Greens want ban on seal scarers

A common seal. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News.

THE SCOTTISH Green Party has called for an imminent ban on seal killing by salmon farms to be beefed up to include sonic “torture” devices.

According to the Greens, acoustic seal scarers “cause injury, misery and lasting hearing damage to seals and other animals.”

Hillswick Wildlife Trust’s Peter Bevington said that the sonic devices don’t work and in fact act as a “dinner gong” for seals as well as interfering with the echo-location of cetaceans like whales and porpoises.

The Scottish Government have introduced a last-minute amendment to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill to introduce a ban on seal killing by large scale fish farms, said to be an attempt to avoid a US import ban.

At the Scottish Parliament’s environment committee marine planning officials acknowledged the concerns around acoustic devices but could not confirm to Scottish Green environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell that they would be included in the bill.

Mark Ruskell said: “While I welcome the long-awaited action on seal killing, the timing suggests it may be more about making sure Scottish Salmon stays on American plates than any real consideration for animal protection.

“But there is a real danger that when the licensed killing of seals is removed, the industry falls back on acoustic deterrent devices which torture and injure not just seals, but whales, dolphins and porpoises too.

“That’s why it’s absolutely vital that this step doesn’t cause as much damage as its preventing. These devices must be included in the ban, and if ministers won’t commit I will introduce an amendment to stop this cruel practice.”

Bevington said: “We have been told by people at the top of the industry that shooting does not work. Acoustic devices do not work and cause a lot of harm to other cetaceans that rely on echo location.

“Essentially this boils down to the industry putting in decent quality anti-predator nets.”