Marine licensing: seal licensing

Collection of documents and publications relating to the Scottish Government's seal management system.


On 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 that:

  • 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

The documents in the sub-collections below comprise information, guidance and forms relating to these developments.

The following two graphs show:

  • the comparison between the numbers requested in seal management applications and the actual numbers granted by Marine Scotland from 2011 to 2018
  • the comparison between the numbers granted in the licence against actual numbers shot from 2011 to 2018

Details of the Scottish Government's other marine licensing policies may be viewed here.

About seal licensing and the seal management system

General and background information.

Applying for a licence

All fisheries and fish farms that wish to manage seal predation must apply for an annual seal licence using one of the forms listed below. Applicants should read the accompanying guidance notes.

Applicants are also required to follow the code of practice (updated September 2018) and to be aware of Scotland's seal management areas.

The annual licensing round runs from 01 October to 31 October for applications for the following license period, whcih runs from from February to January.

Records of licences issued

Yearly records of the numbers of seal license applications processed since the introduction of the scheme.

Annual returns

Excel spreadsheets containing detailed breakdowns of the returns from license holders.

Reporting forms

Return forms for members of the public involved in the Scottish Government's seal management scheme.

Reviews of the seal licensing system

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

In 2015 a report was published that considered all aspects of the seal licensing system during the period from 2011-14.

In 2020, the second review of the seal licensing system was published, covering the period from 2015 to 2020.


The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 imposes a duty on licence applicants to report the number of seals taken under licence and all seals killed to alleviate suffering on a quarterly basis. To do so, please complete the appropriate forms and return them to:

Marine Scotland Planning & Policy
Area 1 A South
Victoria Quay