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Marine Scotland
Seal Licensing Team

Email: seal.licensing@gov.scot

Seal Licensing Review Report

Under Section 129 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, a report on a review of the operation of the seal licensing system is required within 5 years of Section 110 of the Act coming into force on 1 September 2010.

This report covers 4 complete licensing years, namely 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the period from 31 January 2011 to 31 January 2015 and considers all aspects of the operation of the seal licensing system including all developments and improvements that took place during the period, previous interim reviews into the operation of the system and any significant changes made in the light of all of these.

The report was the subject of consultation with the Natural Environment Research Council as required by the Marine Act.

Topic Sheets

Seal Licensing

Photo of SealOn 31 January 2011, Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force.

Part 6 seeks to balance seal conservation with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and its introduction means:

  • It is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence or for welfare reasons, outlawing unregulated seal shooting that was permitted under previous legislation
  • A number of seal conservation areas around Scotland will begin to be introduced, designed to protect vulnerable, declining Common Seal populations
  • A new seal licensing system, providing a well-regulated and monitored context for seal management in Scotland, has been introduced

Two graphs are now available to download showing:

  • The comparison between the numbers requested in seal management applications and the actual numbers granted by Marine Scotland from 2011 to 2016.
  • The comparison between the numbers granted in the licence against actual numbers shot from 2011 to 2016.

2017 Seal Licences

Marine Scotland received 48 applications for seal licences and 43 licences have been granted. (Three licences are pending approval.)

Table 1 below provides a full breakdown. (This information is correct as of 31 January 2017.)

TABLE 1
           
 
Application Type
 
 
Licence Type
 

 

 
Seal Management Area
Protection of Health and Welfare
Prevention of Serious Damage
Total
Protection of Health and Welfare
Prevention of Serious Damage
Total
 
           

East Coast

0

5

5

0

5

5

Moray Firth

0

1

1

0

1

1

Orkney & North Coast

2

5

7

2

5

7

Shetland

3

2

5

3

2

5

South-West Scotland

2

2

4

2

2

4

Western Isles

7

2

9

7

2

9

West Scotland

13

3

16

13

3

16

             

Grand Total

27

20

47

27

20

47

The 28 licences issued for protection of health and welfare and one issued for prevention of serious damage, cover a total of 175 individual fish farms.

The maximum number of seals involved is 245 Grey and 113 Common. Table 2 below provides details. This maximum represents less than 0.1% of the Grey Seal population of 120,000 and 0.1% of the minimum Common Seal population of 25,400. (This information is correct as at 31 March 2017.)

TABLE 2a

Grey Seals            

Seal Management Area

Grey Seals Applied For

PBR*

Grey Seals Granted

Grey Seals Shot: Quarter 1 Grey Seals Shot: Quarter 2 Grey Seals Shot: Quarter 3 Grey Seals Shot: Quarter 4

East Coast

33

352

14

0 0    

Moray Firth

40

294

18

6 13    

Orkney & North Coast

128

1245

56

0 0    

Shetland

54

239

44

5 4    

South-West Scotland

54

57

12

0 0    

Western Isles

165 620 37 3 0    

West Scotland

182

777

64

3 6    
               

Grand Total

656

3584

245

17 23    

The maximum number of Grey Seals allowed on licences granted in 2017 represents over 10% reduction on numbers involved in the previous year's licences, and an over 80% reduction since the system was introduced in 2011.

TABLE 2b

Common Seals            

Seal Management Area

Common Seals Applied For

PBR*

Common Seals Granted

Common Seals Shot: Quarter 1 Common Seals Shot: Quarter 2 Common Seals Shot: Quarter 3 Common Seals Shot: Quarter 4

East Coast

9

1

0

0 0    

Moray Firth

6

4

0

0 0    

Orkney & North Coast

13

11

0

0 0    

Shetland

4

20

3

0 0    

South-West Scotland

78

50

13

0 0    

Western Isles

63 82 16 3 2    

West Scotland

204

637

81

7 9    
               

Grand Total

377

805

113

10 11    

The maximum number of Common Seals allowed on licences granted in 2017 represents a reduction of 1.7% compared to the previous year's licences, and a 64% reduction since the system was introduced in 2011.

*Potential Biological Removal (PBR) is the number of individual seals that can be removed from the population without causing a decline in the population, and is calculated annually by Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) using the latest seal counts.

A full list of licences issued in 2017, by region and company, with the number of seals shot so far, by site, is available to download.

For more information, a series of frequently asked questions and answers on the implementation of the new seal legislation was produced 2011.