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Publication - Form

Seal licensing: form and guidance

Published: 17 Feb 2021

Guidance notes for applications for a licence authorising the killing or taking of seals under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010: Part 6 - conservation of seals.

11 page PDF

1.3 MB

11 page PDF

1.3 MB

Seal licensing: form and guidance
How to apply

11 page PDF

1.3 MB

How to apply for a licence to conserve seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plant

This section refers to the information required as part of an application in relation to the conservation of seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plants. For any other licence types, please contact MS-LOT using the details below.

When to apply for a licence

All licence applications must be submitted by the deadline announced by Marine Scotland which will be at least six weeks prior to the period to which the licence applies.

How to apply for a licence

Applications for a licence should be made on the relevant application form, which should be completed and sent electronically to

Failure to complete any section of the form may result in delays in the processing of your application and may result in refusal of a licence.

Based on the information and evidence submitted Marine Scotland may determine a licence will not be granted.

Marine Scotland or its representatives may visit the site during determination of an application in order to verify information provided and to discuss, for example, any current or past negative effects, or any preventative measures currently employed or used in the past.

Section 1: name of applicant for licence

The applicant must provide the name of the person/organisation applying, who will be named on the licence, if granted.

Section 2: details of a contact person

The applicant must provide the name and contact details for a person who can be contacted for any queries concerning the licence application. This person must be in a position to effectively answer any questions that the MS-LOT may have.

Section 3: species you are seeking to conserve

The applicant must state whether they are applying for the protection of seals, wild animals or wild plants and specify which species is being protected.

Section 4 and 5: details of area(s) covered by this application

The applicant must provide the location of the area where they are proposing to kill or take seals. Evidence that the population is in poor conservation status and therefore requires intervention.

A seal licence cannot be issued for sites or locations in more than one seal management area. Please apply for licences in different seal management areas on separate application forms. Failure to identify sites in different seal management areas may delay the licence application process.

Applications for the purpose of conserving wild Atlantic salmon

Marine Scotland will have regard to the location and time of year requested, and may only consider that an area is eligible for a licence if it falls into one of the categories below.

In applications to protect wild salmon, the applicant should complete the table detailing the (i) seal management area of the rivers (ii) names of each individual river or area they wish their licence to cover, (iii) conservation grade of each river and (iv) the local catch and release policy for each river. Each area on the application should correspond to the legally named area as defined in the Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations 2016.

Applicants must provide copies of local catch and release policies. Marine Scotland will use reported catch data to assess the level of compliance with any voluntary catch and release policies.

All eligible applications will be subject to consideration on a case-by-case basis and any decision to award a licence will be based on the strength of the evidence presented. Marine Scotland are unlikely to grant licences to protect wild Atlantic salmon in areas where recreational fisheries are retaining large quantities of wild salmon caught.

Section 6-8: seal presence and predation

6 and 7: seal presence

The applicant must provide details of presence of seals in the local area, by completing the table detailing the number of seal observations by season for each river applied for.

8: Non-Lethal actions taken to address seal presence

If the conservation of the seal, wild animal or wild plant could be achieved by keeping seals outside the area, applicants must provide details showing that, where possible, appropriate non-lethal measures are being used to deter seals from the area.

Applicants should provide details of the number of measures used and specifications. Applicants should rate the effectiveness of these measures and why a licence to kill seals is required in addition to non-lethal measures.

If applicants are not using non-lethal measures, they should explain why not.

Section 9: evidence to support application

The applicant must explain why it is necessary to kill or take seals to conserve another species. This section should be used to describe the conservation status of the species you are seeking to conserve, the impact of seals on the species and how the killing or taking of seals would contribute to the conservation of the species. The applicant must provide justification for the number of seals they are requesting with reference to the presence of seals and any other actions taken to deter seals.

Section 10: number of seals requested

The applicant should provide the maximum number of seals of each species they are applying to kill or take within a single seal management area as applied for on an individual application form.

Marine Scotland will consider the requested numbers alongside the information provided in Section 6 and the annual Permitted Biological Removal (PBR) for each seal species when determining the application.

Section 11: declaration

The applicant must confirm that that they have read and understood the guidance and supplied accurate information with their application.

There is also a check list to ensure all relevant information is submitted with the completed application form.

Annex A: licensed use of firearms

Seals may only be killed by a suitably trained person.

The applicant must provide information on the named individual(s) that the applicant wishes to be authorised to shoot seals under licence. This will include names, addresses, and details of the firearms and copies of firearms certificate.

The applicant must also supply confirmation that the firearm certificate holder has completed the required training, by providing a copy of either the PDA in Seal Management or Moray Firth Marksman Course certificate.

Any copies of marksmen’s training or accreditation certificates or letters will only be held by Marine Scotland for the validity period of any licence granted.

It is a requirement of the Act that a seal licence must specify the method that the Licensee must use to kill seals and that in respect of shooting it must specify the type of firearm which must be used. In addition, Scottish Ministers must not grant a seal licence authorising a person to kill seals by shooting unless they are satisfied that the person has adequate skills and experience in using firearms.

Licences will only be granted to persons holding a valid firearm certificate for a rifle meeting the requirements of the seal licence conditions. That is, a rifle using ammunition with a muzzle energy not less than 600 foot pounds and a bullet weighing not less than 45 grains. This effectively excludes any 0.22 rim fire rifles. Only centrefire rifles can be used, with the 0.22 Hornet using 45 grain bullets representing the lowest acceptable combination of bullet weight and energy.