In the face of well organised and sustained public opposition, Usan Salmon Fisheries of Montrose has withdrawn its application for a licence to shoot seals to protect their salmon cages – rather than invest in proper defensive measures.
The firm has applied for a licence to shoot seals to keep seals away from their new investment in the River Ythan near Ellon in an Aberdeenshire nature reserve. Usan had recently bought the fishing rights for the river.
With the status of ‘nature reserve’ for the area providing wind in their sails, local campaigners – Stop the Ythan Cull – set up a facebook petition which attracted more than 500 signatures in its first few hours. Usan saw the light. They say they will now use other methods to deter seals.
The Scottish Government and Marine Scotland are deeply culpable in ignoring animal welfare in their dash to support the rocketing growth of almost exclusively foreign owned developments in relation to salmon farming and harvesting in Scottish waters.
Salmon farmers were initially required to install predator nets to protect their cages from seal invasion, It was cheaper to shoot seals than do this and industry lobbying soon saw the award of licences to salmon farms to shoot seals in the vicinity of salmon farms.
At first these licences excluded the seals’ breeding and lactating seasons.
Then that proscription was dropped. Today, Scotland permits licensed salmon farmers even to shoot lactating seals, with the consequent painful deaths from starvation of helpless young pups.
The late Tony Benn observed that all change comes from the bottom. Stop the Ythan Cull has proved that point. It’s time to learn that lesson.