People power forces east coast salmon farmer back-down on seal cull

In the face of well organised and sustained public opposition, Usan Salmon Fisheries of Montrose has withdrawn its application for a licence to shoot seals to protect their salmon cages – rather than invest in proper defensive measures.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.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • ‘Salmond farmers’- you mean we could grow some more?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    Mel Gibson April 4, 2014 5:33 pm Reply
    • I’ll subscribe to the cost of the cage willingly. Would have to be soundproof and have room for others.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      Malcolm Kirk April 4, 2014 6:21 pm Reply
      • And be draped with the Saltire.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

        Robert Wakeham April 5, 2014 12:37 am Reply
    • Woops. Corrected. Thanks for the prompt and the grin.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      newsroom April 4, 2014 11:03 pm Reply
  • And yet another brilliant scoop by the ace reporter…….

    In your desperation to have a go at aquaculture, you have clearly got a bit confused. Salmon netting is not farming, it’s just an even more brutal and wholesale method of slaughtering wild breeding salmon than the rod and line brigade.

    I think you’ll find that this isn’t anything to do with aquaculture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

    Mel Gibson April 4, 2014 5:38 pm Reply
  • Aquaculture is a dirty industry and someone has to keep having ago if we are to get it cleaned up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    newsroom April 4, 2014 11:05 pm Reply
    • And journalism isn’t a dirty business?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

      Mel Gibson April 5, 2014 8:48 am Reply
      • Anyone willing to eat farmed salmon needs their head testing, but the same could also be said about intensively reared meat.

        If you bombard animals with vast amounts of chemicals the soft tissue will absorb and retain the toxins, then we, the end user-the consumer will also absorb the toxins. if you choose to eat meat and farmed fish the safest option is to buy organic.

        I could go on about antibiotic residue found in cows milk but thats all a bit scary!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

        Simon April 5, 2014 10:57 am Reply
        • If you want to avoid ingesting toxins Simon, can I suggest you stop eating or breathing for that matter.

          Joking of course, I generally find your posts most refreshing and entertaining and wouldn’t want them to stop lol

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

          Mel Gibson April 5, 2014 6:18 pm Reply
  • This is a great start but Usan Fisheries have licences to shoot seals elsewhere so it is not over. Shooting of seals is still conducted in Scotland under license issued by Marine Scotland by salmon netsmen, salmon anglers/fisheries trusts/mobile fisheries and salmon/trout aquaculture.

    Under the terms of the licences “Last Resort” is used; i.e. shooting is supposed to be a ‘last resort’, yet few in these industries even understand what this term means, even the government is unaware or not interested. Salmon aquaculture is so unsure it has coined the term ‘Absolute last resort’, maybe they should go back to school for English lessons, just to learn what ‘last resort’ actually means.

    To be ‘last resort’ ALL other non-lethal methods MUST have been explored: Photo ID, Acoustic Deterrents, Double anti-predator netting (of a mesh size so as not to entrap additional wildlife), even closed containment are all precursors to achieve the ‘last resort’ status.

    Even the government acknowledge that only 13% of salmon farms use any kind of netting, probably none use fully encompassing anti-predator nets. Interestingly recent necropsies (animal autopsies, conducted last season on part of the east coast) of shot seals found NO SALMON in their stomachs!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    Mark Carter April 5, 2014 9:52 pm Reply
    • The point is, the original ‘article’ was written in error and oblivious to the facts. It’s nothing to do with salmon farming!
      Using it to attack aquaculture is nonsensical, why don’t you trundle out your tired old anti fish farm arguments when Newsie blogs about wind farms, or independence, or anŷ other tripe she comes out with?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

      Mel Gibson April 6, 2014 8:06 am Reply
      • Funny I thought it was to do with withdrawing a licence to shoot seals; licences which are issued by Marine Scotland, part of the Scottish Government, to salmon netsmen, salmon anglers mainly though their fisheries trusts, salmon farmers and the mobile fishing sector.

        What it has done is to encourage a Scottish Parliamentary Petition and create a new and fast growing protection page for seals, thereby spreading the word that shooting seals for no real reason or gain when nonlethal alternatives exists is no longer acceptable.

        The public are revolting! The voters are revolting! The shoppers are revolting! The clear message to any industry that shoots seals as a first resort is STOP!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        Mark Carter April 6, 2014 10:16 pm Reply
        • No Mark, the article is about a salmon netting company withdrawing it’s application in the face of local opposition.
          Marine Scotland haven’t withdrawn a licence, and it’s got nothing to do with salmon farming.
          Read it slowly this time, and you’ll see.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          Mel Gibson April 6, 2014 10:50 pm Reply
          • I’ve never said it was anything to do with salmon farming but John Robins (below) puts it quite well; ‘The main common factor between salmon farms and salmon netting stations is dead’…seals.

            I’ve worked extensively on the west coast and a fair bit on the east; I think I know the difference between to two, that said salmon farmers, salmon netsmen, salmon anglers and the more general mobile fisheries shoot seals: The common seal population is generally in a worrying state, the grey seal (except in the North Sea) is not doing that much better, and yet we still allow shooting mainly against the conditions of the licenses as a first resort when non-lethal alternatives exist.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

            Mark Carter April 7, 2014 3:01 pm
          • Additionally you may like to look at the article in the Inverurie Herald on the 7th April titled; “Seal-shooting application withdrawn”

            In summary:
            Usan Salmon Fisheries of Montrose have now withdrawn an application for a seal-shooting permit with Marine Scotland after ‘careful consideration’.
            The firm have confirmed that they will now use only non-lethal measures to control the seals on the Ythan Fishery.


            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

            Mark Carter April 7, 2014 3:10 pm
  • It is important to differentiate between wild salmon and seatrout netting stations and salmon aquaculture.

    Netting stations, like those at the Ythan estuary and several other sites around Scotland (mainly along the east coast), intercept and kill scarce wild salmon and seatrout before they can return to fresh water to breed. Salmon aquaculture involves the rearing of mainly non-native fish in hundreds of floating factory fish farm cages along the west coast and around our islands.

    66% of salmon farms in Scotland are Norwegian owned and in 2011 a total of 35,851,000 salmon ova were imported from Norway for on-growing in Scotland. Much of that salmon is now exported to China and the USA while Scottish customers are, knowingly or not, buying more and more salmon factory farmed in Norway!

    Floating factory fish farms are often also described as “filthy” due to their associated seabed detritus, use of chemicals, incidents of fish diseases & mortalities and infestations of sealice.

    The main common factor between salmon farms and salmon netting stations is dead common (and grey) seals which salmon farmers and salmon netters can shoot once they obtain a fairly freely issued license from the Government of Mr. Salmond and Ms Sturgeon whose very names may render them less than seal friendly.

    Another common factor between salmon farming and netting is the adverse effect they have on wild salmonid stocks. Netting stations kill adult salmon and seatrout returning to fresh water to breed and, due to their close proximity to many salmon rivers, the sealice infestations at salmon farms can kill young salmon and seatrout as they migrate from fresh water to their marine feeding grounds.

    Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd (a.k.a. The Scottish Wild Salmon Company) recently bought the salmon angling and netting rights for the Ythan River and Ythan estuary from Udny & Dudwick Estates. They then applied to the Scottish Government for a license to shoot seals. Applications are usually made by October and issued by the end of December for the following year.

    Save Our Seals Fund objected to that application on 2nd of April:

    Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd withdrew their licence application within 24 hours so it is far more likely that this was in response to the excellent campaign mounted by local objectors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    John F. Robins April 7, 2014 6:05 am Reply
    • I am very fortunate to call Tiree home…and spend a fair amount of time on the water fishing and the likes…we are blessed with a healthy seal population…in the main Grey…and of course we have our yearly Basking Shark migration and courtship etc..

      We were fortunate several months ago to hear the Wind power station known as the Argyll Array had been dropped…and look forward to the area gaining SPA/MPA or more status.

      Thanks for the link…donation made.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Karl Hughes April 7, 2014 4:19 pm Reply
  • The salmon netting stations were the traditional way of catching wild fresh organic salmon trout and grilse for centuries in Scotland before rod fishing was introduced by the English gentry as a sport. And Usan owned the rights in that area in the past but probably like other stations ran into financial difficulties when the angling association bought a netting station at the mouth of a river then had a say at fishery meetings then they changed stopped the scottish fishers putting nets up in the Spring which was their only busy time! Most of them lost their lively hoods but Usan is the last one remaining catching wild organic salmon without using any toxic chemicals unlike fish farms who have always refused to disclose how many seals they shoot and refuse to disclose that their fish farms have diseased 8.5million wild fish and the 150k diseased ones that escaped last year alone. The fish farms owned by Norwegians make billions at the cost of Scottish fishing companies like Usan who they are determined to kill off creating more demand for their Frankenstein fish which scientists are now deeming unfit to eat. You only need to look at surviving bothys in Jolomo paintings and others which are now used as green keepers/stores on golf courses i.e Royal Aberdeen, links (now just a muddy spot but the tunnel under road remains and road is gated at either side for use of jet skis), Murcar, black dog, Mr Forbes who took on Trump, the one at Newburgh Ythan is derelict in the dunes if you park at forvie sands car park and take a left in the car park after trees when you walk down that track and finally get to the dunes you will find the roofless salmon bothy left to crumble with no financial help from the government or any associations but a pole with a salmon on top painted proudly by the old fisherman or perhaps locals who grew up with the salmon netters and understand their plight is still standing. I actually miss being able to buy fresh affordable wild atlantic salmon caught here on my local beach whilst walking the dog from the netsmen using traditional non polluting methods. We need to boycot these fish farms who have destroyed our scottish eco system and native netsmen. I wish the Usan salmon netsmen all the best in buying back their previous stations and understandably since they haven’t operated in that area for 25yrs the seal population will have bloomed so it probably needs an initial cull which save the ythan seals prevented although you do have to wonder if it was instigated by the fish farm bullies as it’s a drop in the ocean to the seals they kill and anti predator nets they are away to start using which trap and kill dolphins and otters but that will all be hushed up in their agreement with the government not to disclose it to the public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Michelle August 15, 2014 4:50 pm Reply

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