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

*New*

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 2015.
  • The comparison between the numbers granted in the licence against actual numbers shot from 2011 to 2014.

2015 Seal Licences

Marine Scotland received 53 applications for seal licences and 51 licences have been granted. Two licences are pending approval.

Table 1 below provides a full breakdown. (This information is correct as of 31 January 2015.)

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

7

7

0

6

6

Moray Firth

0

2

2

0

2

2

Orkney & North Coast

2

7

9

2

7

9

Shetland

6

0

6

6

0

6

South-West Scotland

2

2

4

2

2

4

Western Isles

7

2

9

7

2

9

West Scotland

12

4

16

12

3

15

             

Grand Total

29

24

53

29

22

51

The 29 licences issued for protection of health and welfare and one issued for prevention of serious damage, cover a total of 214 individual fish farms.

The maximum number of seals involved is 662 Grey and 197 Common. Table 2 below provides details. This maximum represents less than 0.7% of the Grey Seal population of 101,000 and 1% of the minimum Common Seal population of 20,700. The numbers are significantly lower than previous estimates proposed by non-government organisations at between 2,000 and 5,000. (This information is correct as at 31 January 2015.)

TABLE 2a

Grey Seals            

Seal Management Area

Grey Seals Applied For

PBR*

Grey Seals Granted

Grey Seals Shot:
First Quarter
Grey Seals Shot:
Second Quarter
Grey Seals Shot:
Third Quarter
Grey Seals Shot:
Fourth Quarter

East Coast

92

297

66

0      

Moray Firth

120

201

70

8      

Orkney & North Coast

315

1240

220

12      

Shetland

89

235

82

5      

South-West Scotland

65

57

15

1      

Western Isles

183 386 89 2      

West Scotland

183

414

120

8      
               

Grand Total

1047

2830

662

36      

The maximum number of Grey Seals allowed on licences granted in 2014 represents over 1% reduction on numbers involved in the previous year's licences, and an over 25% 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:
First Quarter
Common Seals Shot:
Second Quarter
Common Seals Shot:
Third Quarter
Common Seals Shot:
Fourth Quarter

East Coast

14

1

0

0      

Moray Firth

15

16

5

3      

Orkney & North Coast

37

11

0

0      

Shetland

5

18

3

0      

South-West Scotland

82

35

18

0      

Western Isles

71 82 34 0      

West Scotland

260

464

137

8      
               

Grand Total

484

627

197

11      

The maximum number of Common Seals allowed on licences granted in 2015 represents a reduction of slightly over 16% compared to the previous year's licences, and an over 37% 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.

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