The Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG) spoke out after it emerged that 349 grey seals and 74 common seals were shot last year. The total of 423 seals shot is a reduction of 38 from the 461 seals shot in 2011, the first year a new licensing scheme came into place.
Andy Ottaway, of SPAG, said a “staggering” 884 creatures had been shot in the past two years. Under the Marine Scotland Act 2010, it is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence, with licensees expected to follow the principle that seals should only be shot as a last resort.
A total of 61 licences, permitting the shooting of a maximum of 878 grey seals and 289 common seals, were granted last year to fish farms, wild salmon netting companies and sports fishing interests.
Mr Ottaway said: “Under the government’s new scheme, a staggering 884 seals or more have been shot in just two years, allegedly as a ‘last resort’ measure. That’s an awful lot of last resorts and it strongly suggests nothing much is being done to curb seal shooting.”