Licence to Kill - Salmon Farmers in Firing Line During 2011 Scottish Slaughter of Seals

This year’s Queen’s Speech could have the public choking on their smoked salmon at the thought of the slaughter of hundreds of seals by Scottish salmon farmers – and may prompt Her Majesty to develop a stammer like King George VI.  Sir Sean Connery - Scotland’s iconic 007 in the James Bond series including the film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ - may even be forced to come out of retirement to kkkkkkkkkkill 1,300 seals across Scotland during 2011.  Sir Sean is well used to taking on seals – in the Hollywood blockbuster The Rock he killed US Navy SEALs. 


“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – the Ssssscccccccccottish Ssssssssssslaughter of Sssssssssseals” would make for horrific viewing but could reel in an Oscar just like The King’s Speech.  The Queen and the royal family, especially Prince Charles, are well known advocates of wild salmon and have courted controversy in the past by opposing salmon farming and promoting wild Alaskan salmon ahead of Scottish farmed salmon.  If Her Majesty the Queen gives the royal seal of approval to Scottish farmed salmon she will certainly have bloods on her hands. 

According to Shetland Marine News (25th February), the Scottish Government has just released figures indicating how many seals can be killed by fish farmers this year under the new seal licensing scheme introduced under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.  The government said it had issued 65 licenses to marksmen allowing them to kill up to 1,298 seals in Scottish waters during 2011, 130 of which can be killed in Shetland.  If Shetland salmon farmers had their bloody way there would be even more killing – they originally asked to be allowed to shoot 384 grey and 47 common seals, but Marine Scotland granted licenses for “only” 120 grey and 10 common seals. 
Andy Ottaway, director of the Seal Protection Action Group, told The Underwater Times (25th  February): “An average of over three seals shot every single day is too high a price to pay for Scottish salmon”.  John Robins of Animal Concern and Save Our Seals Fund told The Sun newspaper (24th February): “I am furious that the Scottish Government has passed a death sentence on over a thousand seals.  The Government have lied to us over this.  They said seal shooting would only be allowed as a last resort.  Marine Scotland have made it official - if you buy Scottish salmon you pay for bullets to shoot seals.  We are calling on the public to boycott Scottish salmon”.

Sadly, the shooting of seals in Scotland is nothing new and the Scottish salmon farming industry have secretly sanctioned the slaughter of thousands of seals for decades.  Previously, the Scottish Government had stubbornly refused all requests for information to release seal slaughtering statistics.  The Ecologist reported in 2010: “Fish farmers in Scotland killing estimated 2,000 seals a year”.  The Scottish Sunday Express lifted the lid in 2005 with an expose headlined: “Scottish Fish Farmers Slaughter Seals”. 

Ross Minnett of Advocates for Animals said: “It is thought many thousands are shot around Scotland each year.  This figure may well be considerably higher as many injured or dead animals sink and are never found”.  Superintendent Mike Flynn, an investigator with the Scottish SPCA, said the animals would suffer "slow and lingering deaths" if not shot properly.  “Seals are not the easiest things to shoot and it is easy to make mistakes, causing the animals great pain”.

The Sunday Express also reported in 2005 that the “secret cull” of seals would lead to a ban on the import of Scottish farmed salmon to the United States.

The Press & Journal reported in 2008 that two headless seals – one a pregnant female – were found washed up on a beach close to a Marine Harvest salmon farm.  Nigel Smith who runs Seaprobe Atlantis Wildlife Cruises around Skye and Lochalsh, said he suspected that the animals might have been shot by fish-farm employees.  He said: “One reason could be that the heads had bullet holes in them and they didn’t want people to see they were shot, or they may have been shot with the wrong calibre of weapon. The seals were relatively fresh, so I don’t believe that the heads could have decayed and fallen off.”

Meanwhile in Canada, seal killers are getting a PR makeover which Canadian salmon farmers can only die for.  According to Global News (28th February), “Low-calibre amo kills seals humanely”.  Pierre-Yves Daoust, a professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, has been testing the ‘humane’ bullets on Hay Island off Cape Breton.  Global News reported: “Hunters cannot use a high-powered rifle on the island because of the small space between them and the seals, and the high risk of ricochets on the island's terrain.  Daoust says 90 per cent of the seals were killed instantly with the low-calibre bullets during testing last week.  The other 10 per cent either needed a second bullet or were clubbed”.

Canadian salmon farmers are understandably coy about how they kill seals and other marine mammals or how many they currently kill.  A Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada report revealed that the BC salmon farming industry legally killed 6,243 seals and sea lions between 1989 and 2000. 

Shockingly, this is just the tip of the iceberg and how many seals and sea lions were killed after 2000 is as clear as the mud under a salmon farm.  The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform reports on their ‘Farmed & Dangerous’ web-site under “Marine Mammal Deaths”:
“In April 2007, 51 California sea lions were found dead at one of Creative Salmon's open net-cage fish pens in Clayoquot Sound.  At least 110 sea lions drowned in Creative Salmon's nets in Clayoquot Sound in 2007, with 46 sea lions dying in their nets in 2006.  Within a two week period in March, 2007 one harbour porpoise, a steller sea lion (both listed as species of special concern under Canada's Species at Risk Act) and a Pacific white sided dolphin were all drowned in the predator nets at Mainstream's Wehlis Bay farm in the Broughton Archipelago.  The deaths of these mammals only came to light because a filmmaker was shooting underwater footage in the area after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen”.
Watch “The Sea Lion Story” online now. 

Photos and footage of the sea lion killings were featured in the Norwegian media and in the film “Message for Cermaq”. 

More background via “Salmon Farming Harms Other Marine Life”.