Seal licensing: application form and guidance

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.

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Seal licence conditions

The Act specifies that a seal licence which authorises the killing of seals by shooting must impose conditions in respect of:

  • the specific method which the Licensee must use to kill seals
  • the type of firearm which must be used
  • the maximum number of seals which may be killed
  • the weather conditions in which a person may attempt to kill a seal
  • how close a person must be to a seal before attempting to shoot it
  • prohibiting a person from attempting to shoot a seal from an unstable platform
  • in relation to the recovery of carcases
  • the steps which must be taken in relation to any seal injured when attempting to kill it in accordance with the licence in order to reduce the risk of it suffering unnecessarily

The Act further provides that a seal licence may impose conditions in respect of:

  • the period of validity of the licence
  • the area in which seals may be killed
  • the species of seal which may be killed
  • the circumstances in which seals may be killed
  • any period during which seals may not be killed or taken, for example, when females of the species of seal for which the licence has been issued are likely to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy or have dependent pups

Failure to comply with a condition imposed on a seal licence is an offence.

Licences may be suspended or revoked at any time and should then be surrendered to Marine Scotland immediately.


If a licence is granted, Licensees are required to submit returns for each seal killed under licence. Returns must be completed within 48 hours of killing the seal, in addition to quarterly returns. MS-LOT will provide advice to Licensees on the nature and method of returns.

Licensees will also be required to recover the seal carcass, where possible, and report it to Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) for collection.

The following information will be required:

  • location
  • species of seal
  • date and time
  • whether the seal carcass was recovered, reported to, and collected by the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme
It is imperative that a seal isn’t left alive after being shot. Any seal that shows signs of consciousness should be dispatched as soon as it is safe to do so. If the seal sinks immediately after being shot an effective watch should be maintained in case the animal was only wounded and re-surfaces. Every effort should be made to retrieve the shot seal as soon as possible to confirm death. The ability to recover the seal/carcass should be a consideration in decisions on whether to shoot a seal and on where and when to shoot.



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