Seals in Danger!
Every year around the world hundreds of thousands of seals are clubbed or shot to death for their fur or other body parts. Many more seals are shot by fishermen, even deliberately drowned in traps, blamed for damaging fisheries, while huge numbers are accidentally drowned in fishing gears.
Despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support claims that the culling of seals will reverse declining fisheries, the persecution of these vulnerable mammals is increasing.
The Seal Protection Action Group
The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) is dedicated to protecting seals and their environment worldwide, including the UK through public education, campaigning, and supporting non-invasive scientific research projects.
History of SPAG
The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG), (formerly the Seal Preservation Action Group) was established in the late 1970’s to oppose the culling of seals in the Orkney Islands and was successful in helping to put an end to that barbaric cull.
SPAG Charitable Objectives
1) The Seal Protection Action Group is dedicated to protecting seals and their environment worldwide, through:
* Campaigning and lobbying for effective legislation to protect seals
* Public education campaigns about seals and the growing environmental threats they face from climate change, toxic pollution, over-fishing and other threats.
* Supporting non-invasive scientific research projects in particular to resolve fisheries and seals conflicts where seals are persecuted as a threat to fisheries.
2) Assisting the rescue of orphaned or injured seals by financially supporting special seal rehabilitation units and seal sanctuaries here in the UK.
SPAG is campaigning to protect seals all around the world, currently our most active campaign is.......
Saving Scottish Seals!
Aim of Campaign
An estimated 5,000 seals are being killed in Scotland alone each year by salmon farming and angling interests.
The Saving Scottish Seals Campaign aims to create, effective legislation to provide seals with full protection and to encourage retailers to only stock ‘seal-friendly salmon’ by insisting formal contracts, with their suppliers stating that they will not shoot seals.
Seals in Scotland
Scotland is home two seal species, the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and the common, or harbour, seal (Phoca vitulina). Both species are of international importance with 40% of the world population of grey seals found in Britain and over 90% of British grey seals breeding in Scotland, the majority in the Hebrides and in Orkney.
Scottish seals in decline
Scientific research conducted by The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU SCOS Report 2007) revealed Shetland’s population of common seals has dropped from more than 6,000 in 1997 to fewer than 4,000. The report also expressed ‘serious concern’ over declines in Orkney, as well as the Tay and the Wash populations.
The leader of the Sea Mammal Research Unit said that since a ban on shooting seals was lifted there has been a steady decline in common seals.
In October 2008, SMRU published another research report this time stating that there is now a ‘frightening’ decline of common (harbour) seals.
Although the reasons of the decline are unknown, the Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) believes that indiscriminate shooting by fishing interests has played its part and must be stopped.
Conservation of Seals Act (1970)
At present, both common and grey seals are ' protected ' by the Conservation of Seals Act (1970), which is little more than a licence to kill them, except during their respective breeding seasons: June 1st to August 31st for common seals and September 1st to December 31st for greys. Even then fishing interests, notably salmon netsmen and fish farmers, may still shoot seals to prevent damage to their equipment or catch/stock.
In 1988, the Government lifted a temporary ban on the shooting of common seals (which had been hit by a disease epidemic) despite the objections of conservation and animal welfare groups. Coincidence or not, common seals have suffered a major population decline since then.
Eye witness accounts
In May 2008 two decapitated seals were found in the Kyle of Lochalsh. They were common seals, one a pregnant female the other a juvenile animal, both had been shot. Marine Harvest, a Norwegian owned company that operates over 25 fish farms in Scotland, admitted to the shootings.
A range of other eye witness accounts have been recorded and reported, click on the link for further information.
Marine Harvest slaughter Scotland's seals: an eye-witness account
The illegal killing of Scotland's seals: further eyewitness accounts
Scottish salmon Farms
In Scotland there are 454 registered active finfish sites and Scotland is the second-biggest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon in Europe, producing about 135,000 tonnes annually, with an estimated value of almost £380 million. (Source: Scottish Executive, ‘Scottish Aquaculture A Fresh Start A Consultation on a Renewed Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture’ August 2008)
Seals worth more alive than dead
Nature tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Scotland providing a valuable and sustainable income for many coastal communities.
There is growing evidence that the shooting of seals is causing damage to the tourism industry with tour operators reporting the displacement of seals from some areas, while some tourists are being confronted with dead or dying seals that have been shot by fish farmers.
Listed below are three simple actions you can take to help our campaign:
1) Write to Ministers
Please write to the relevant UK and Scottish Ministers calling for the protection of our globally important seals.
Their addresses are:
Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, Minister of State (Farming and the Environment), Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, Nobel House, London SW1P 3JR
Richard Lochhead MSP, Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP
2) Contact your MP
Contact your MP, MEP and if you are in Scotland your MSP and ask them to support the replacement of the Conservation of Seas Act 1970 with a Protection of Seals Act.
The easiest way to access your current Parliamentary Member is by visiting www.writetothem.com, once on the site simply enter your postcode in the box provided, and select the relevant member(s) to your area. An email box appears in which you are invited to respond.
3) Contact retailers
If you buy Scottish salmon products please contact your retailer and ask them if seals are shot by the producers of that salmon.
If your retailer cannot guarantee that the salmon is seal-friendly, you could refuse to buy it and inform the company that shot seals are too high a price to pay. A letter from you to the supermarket, fishmonger, deli or restaurant where you buy your salmon could make all the difference.
If you do not eat salmon but wish to still contact salmon retailers informing them that seals are too high a price to pay for Scottish salmon then please do so.
Contact details for the major retailers and suggested text are available from the Seal Friendly Salmon page on the Seal Protection Groups coalition website.
If possible please forward copies of your communication from stages one to three including the responses too SPAG, PO Box Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5BZ or click here to email.
Become a Seal Saver!
If you would like to help the Seal Protection Action Group to protect seals, then please consider joining our Seal Savers scheme. The ‘Seal Savers’ scheme is a very important source of income for SPAG and subscriptions to the scheme will help fund our vital campaign and public education work.
Join us from only £4 a month and receive a special Seal Saver’s certificate, metal badge and regular newsletters. Please click here for further information.