Shooting and fishing: The great British public does not like sharing the beach with smelly rotting seals
I DON’T care much for seals, however sweet they look, when they eat salmon.
And I don’t approve of salmon netsmen because they catch the salmon the seals don’t eat, which leaves fewer fish for me to catch in the river. It’s a selfish thing. So I don’t have much complaint about salmon netsmen shooting seals that get into their nets. It’s business.
But what is unbelievably stupid in this fluffy, touchy-feely day and age is for the netsmen’s hired hands to shoot the seals, then leave the carcasses washing about on the tide. It was almost the first thing Usan Fisheries of Montrose managed to do when it reopened the long disused netting station at Gamrie on the Moray Firth.
Bang, bang, bang and bang, four dead seals washed up on the beach and rocks within a couple of weeks of putting their nets in the water. Netsmen are there quite legally and they can shoot seals quite legally if they are seen hanging around the nets in a threatening manner.
But one thing the great British public does not like is sharing the beach with smelly rotting seals with bulletholes in their heads.
And when it does, it gets quite upset and starts complaining to the papers and then all hell lets loose: the seal people call for a total ban on shooting rogue seals, the tourist people say it’ll destroy the entire industry at a stroke, someone raises the spectre of a health hazard (yes madam, if you eat it raw) and there is always a very good chance that an indignant parent, usually a bloke, will complain that the sight of a dead seal will upset children.
So you’d think it made sense when possible, which is admittedly not always, to retrieve or at least hide the bodies. Now I am in two minds over this.
One half asks what’s wrong with the odd dead seal; they’ve been dying one way or another on beaches and rocks for several millennia. And I have never met a child that is anything other than curious about dead animals; dead sheep, dead gulls, dead hamsters. It is always adults who are outraged on behalf of children, whose comment is usually nothing worse than “Poo-eee. It smells.” And some thoughtful contemplation. Anyway, it alerts them to the fact that things die, unlike on TV.
The other half says that anything to do with guns and dead seals is bad PR for those of us who wish to use and legally own guns for whatever reason. The fact seals have been shot legally is neither here nor there. The message that goes abroad is one of irresponsible gunslinging, which will only reinforce Justice Secretary MacAskill’s determination to ban anything more powerful than a spud gun.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east