Scottish actor Ross McCall has called for an end to the killing of seals in Scotland following a recent stand-off between campaigners and culling teams.
Pleas from McCall, 38, who played one of the lead roles in the television drama series Band of Brothers, come after protesters confronted licensed marksmen at Gardenstown, near Banff in Aberdeenshire, last week, forcing the Scottish Wild Salmon Company to halt its seal management programme.
Protesters are now staging a 24-hour watch to deter the marksmen.
The Scottish Government granted consent for the killing of up to 239 grey seals and 24 common seals in the Moray Firth this year.
Last night, the Port Glasgow-born actor, who campaigns for environment group Sea Shepherd in the United States, told The Scotsman it was unnecessary to shoot the seals when sonar devices were available to scare them off.
“What is happening to the seals is brutal and barbaric. Standing with a rifle taking pot shots at seals – who gives us the right to do that?” he said.
“The seals eat salmon to survive. These guys need it,” added McCall, best known for his character Joseph Liebgott, an Easy Company corporal in the 2001 HBO mini-series. He has also recently featured in the hit BBC crime series Luther and the US FBI drama White Collar.
He said: “There is sonar equipment which can be used to stop them going near the fishermen’s nets. But it seems it’s not being used because fishermen don’t think it is cost-effective.
“The truth is no-one is starving, fishermen don’t need to go out and get such a load of salmon. A lot of what is going on is driven by mass consumption and greed.
“I understand that people have livelihoods and jobs. If there was a family that was starving then I could get on board with them having to go out and fish, but this is just mass consumption.
“Meat used to be seen as a luxury but now the same thing has happened with salmon.
“Let’s lose the ignorance and get the facts.”
McCall, who is currently filming action drama 24: Live Another Day, added: “I’m actually shooting right now but I intend going up there [Gardenstown] at some stage and lend a hand.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Wild Salmon Company said using sonar equipment presented difficulties.
He said: “We are working with the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews but the development of the technology could be some time yet.”
Robert Harris, research assistant at SMRU, who is working on a Scottish Government-funded programme developing devices to deter seals, said: “The devices emit a noise at a frequency seals can hear, but not fish, and have been shown to be effective.”