I read your article, “Seal ‘scarer device’ backed by MSPs” (4 February), and I feel that MSPs are putting too much faith in the new acoustic seal scarer developed at the University of St Andrews.
Regrettably, many salmon farms have been placed very close to traditional seal haul-out and breeding sites. Scaring the seals away from these sites is not the answer.
The Scottish Government licenses the shooting of seals at floating factory fish farms in a flawed attempt to allow salmon growers to meet their legal obligation under the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to protect their stock from being caused stress and fear by predators.
Failure to meet the welfare requirements of the 2006 act is a criminal offence.
Shooting does not prevent the 2006 act being broken, as marksmen would have to be able to kill all seals which approach the farm.
You cannot shoot seals after dark or in fog or rough seas.
The best way to protect the fish and continue to allow seals access to haul-out and breeding sites is by installing and maintaining high-strength, tensioned external predator exclusion nets to keep seals well away from the inner net cages containing the salmon.
Marine Harvest does this in Canada – it should be done in Scotland as well.
It should also be noted that the figure of 242 seals shot and killed at fish farms in Scotland in 2011 is based on the returns made by the people who shoot the seals.
No-one monitors the shooting, most of which takes place in remote areas where there are no eyewitnesses.
John F Robins
Save Our Seals Fund