Seal Licensing

Photo of SealOn 31 January 2011, Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force.

Part 6 seeks to balance seal conservation with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and its introduction means:

  • It is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence or for welfare reasons, outlawing unregulated seal shooting that was permitted under previous legislation
  • A number of seal conservation areas around Scotland will begin to be introduced, designed to protect vulnerable, declining common seal populations
  • A new seal licensing system, providing a well regulated and monitored context for seal management in Scotland has been introduced

*New*

Two graphs are now available to download showing:

  • The comparison between the numbers requested in seal management applications and the actual numbers granted by Marine Scotland from 2011 to 2014
  • The comparison between the numbers granted in the licence against actual numbers shot from 2011 to 2013

2014 Seal Licences

Marine Scotland received 56 applications for seal licences and 53 licences have been granted: three licences are pending approval.

Table 1 below provides a full breakdown. (This information is correct as of 31 January 2014).

TABLE 1

           
 

Application Type

   

Licence Type

Seal Management Area

Protection of Health and Welfare

Prevention of Serious Damage

Total

Protection of Health and Welfare

Prevention of Serious Damage

Total

             

East Coast

0

7

7

0

6

6

Moray Firth

0

3

3

0

2

2

Orkney and North Coast

2

7

9

2

6

8

Shetland

6

0

6

6

0

6

South West Scotland

2

2

4

2

2

4

Western Isles

9

2

11

9

2

11

West Scotland

12 4 16 12 4 16
             

Grand Total

31

25

56

31

22

53

The 31 licences issued for protection of health and welfare and one issued for prevention of serious damage, cover a total of 214 individual fish farms.

The maximum number of seals involved is 765 grey and 240 common. Table 2 below provides details. This maximum represents less than 0.7% of the grey seal population of 100,000 and slightly over 1% of the minimum common seal population of 20,500. The numbers are significantly lower than previous estimates proposed by Non-Government Organisations at between 2,000 and 5,000. (This information is correct as at 31 January 2014).

TABLE 2a

Grey Seals            

Seal management area

Grey seals applied for

PBR*

Grey seals granted

Grey seals shot:
first quarter
Grey seals shot:
second quarter
Grey seals shot:
third quarter
Grey seals shot:
fourth quarter

East Coast

128

314

74

       

Moray Firth

239

174

90

       

Orkney & North Coast

330

1448

232

       

Shetland

198

236

105

       

South West Scotland

66

57

25

       

Western Isles

188 387 116        

West Scotland

188

386

123

       
               

Grand Total

1327

3002

765

       

The maximum number of grey seals allowed on licences granted in 2014 represents a more than 1% reduction on numbers involved in the previous year's licences and a 25% reduction since the system was introduced in 2011.

TABLE 2b

Common Seals            

Seal management area

Common seals applied for

PBR*

Common seals granted

Common seals shot:
first quarter
Common seals shot:
second quarter
Common seals shot:
third quarter
Common seals shot:
fourth quarter

East Coast

39

2

0

       

Moray Firth

24

17

10

       

Orkney & North Coast

39

17

6

       

Shetland

17

18

5

       

South West Scotland

91

35

26

       

Western Isles

71 82 41        

West Scotland

266

446

152

       
               

Grand Total

547

617

240

       

The maximum number of common seals allowed on licences granted in 2014 represents a nearly 10% reduction on numbers involved in the previous year's licences and an over 24% reduction since the system was introduced in 2011.

*Potential Biological Removal (PBR) is the number of individual seals that can be removed from the population without causing a decline in the population and is calculated annually by Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) using the latest seal counts.

For more information, a series of frequently asked questions and answers on the implementation of the new seal legislation was produced 2011.

Summary

A full list of licences issued in 2014, by region and company, with the number of seals shot each quarter, by site, will be available to download soon.