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Sixth Seals Forum

MINUTES OF THE SIXTH MEETING OF THE SCOTTISH SEALS FORUM

WEDNESDAY 15TH MARCH 2006

SCOTLAND'S HOTEL, PITLOCHRY

Attendees

Scottish Executive Environment & Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD)
Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews
Fisheries Research Services
Scottish Anglers National Association
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)
Marine Conservation Society
Spey Fishery Board
Kyle of Sutherland Fishery Board
Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Salmon Net Fish Association
Scottish Natural Heritage
Atlantic Salmon Trust

Apologies were intimated on behalf of Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS), Advocates for Animals, Aberdeen University, Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, WildScotland, University Marine Biological Station, Millport and the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB).

Welcome & Introduction

The new chair welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the Seals Forum and outlined that the main focus was to discuss the advice from SCOS and the Moray Firth Seal Management plan.

The new chair also outlined the recent re-organisation within SEERAD which resulted in the creation of the Marine Group and the Marine Management Division, to improve co-ordination on marine issues.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting and Matters Arising

The minutes of the 5th meeting were accepted with one minor correction.

The actions from the 5th meeting were reviewed. They had been completed or were discussed under the main agenda.

Advice from SCOS

The Group discussed the summary of the SCOS Advice 2005 on seal populations and the responses to the questions put to SCOS last year.

Action: Forum members to contact SEERAD by end April 2006 with any questions for SCOS, in time for discussion at the Working Group in May 2006.

Update on the Moray Firth Seal Management Plan

The Group was provided with a presentation on the first phase of the Moray Firth Seal Management Plan for 2005. The latest figures indicated that the number of seals shot by District Salmon Fishery Board (DSFBs) and salmon netsmen combined were considerably lower than the maximum number permitted under the SEERAD licence. It was noted however that the licence period did not cover the whole of the year. In the future the need for seal management during the spring salmon run could potentially increase numbers shot. The figures also included two seals caught in nets and one humanely destroyed. The associated research project monitoring the presence and impact of seals in rivers was already producing interesting results.

It was announced that a representative from the Kyle of Sutherland Fishery Board would be assuming the co-ordination role for the Plan in April 2006. The Group expressed its gratitude to the Spey Fishery Board for their important role in organising, co-ordinating and implementing the Plan.

Action: SEERAD to consider the possibility of additional support for the Moray Firth Seal Management Plan and the associated research.

Seal Research Strategy and Key Priorities

SMRU introduced a draft strategy paper for marine mammal research, including seal research. The Group discussed this draft and suggested some changes.

Action: SMRU to incorporate changes suggested by the Forum and SEERAD to consider the points raised in the discussion at the Working Group in May.

AOB

There was no other business.

Date of next meeting

This was provisionally scheduled for 14th March 2007 in Pitlochry, but this would be confirmed.