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

Contents
Seal licensing: form and guidance
Types of licence

11 page PDF

1.3 MB

Types of licence

This section sets out the situations in which Marine Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, would consider an application to kill or take seals under these purposes. It should be noted that this will not cover all instances in which a licence application may be sought, and these will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Scientific, research or educational purposes

Licences may be granted under this provision for scientific research requiring the capture of live seals. Examples may include (but not be limited to):

  • taking samples from wild animals
  • deploying markers or tags on wild animals
  • capture to retain in an appropriate facility
  • other reasons specified in a Home Office licence

Applicants should ensure that other relevant permits and training are in place and that the capture or sampling of an animal does not contravene any other legislation for the protection of animals.

Conserve natural habitats

There is no current evidence that licences to kill or take seals would need to be granted for the conservation of natural habitats. This guidance will be updated as necessary if such evidence becomes available.

Conserve seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plants

Licences may be sought in some circumstances to conserve seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or plants. Scottish Ministers cannot identify all situations in which this may be the case and applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

Where a licence under this purpose is sought, the application will need to include information such as the following:

  • details concerning the presence and activity of seals
  • explanation as to why the control of seals is deemed to be necessary for this purpose
  • evidence that there is a need to kill or take seals for the conservation of wild animals

One of the instances in which an application would be considered is the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

The Scottish Government, along with Fisheries Management Scotland and other partners, has identified 12 high level pressuresimpacting on wild Atlantic salmon in Scottish waters and further afield. Predation, including predation by seals, is one of the pressures identified for further action.

In many river catchments, wild Atlantic salmon stocks are in poor conservation status. In addition, research shows that predation of salmon in rivers is likely to be carried out by a small number of seals with behaviour adapted to this ecological niche (Harris, R.N. and Northridge, S.P. 2019. Seals and Salmon Interactions. Annual report to Scottish Government – SSI. Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews, St Andrews. pp 25). In certain circumstances, licences to kill or take seals may therefore be granted for the purpose of removing seals to protect salmon populations within rivers. Even in rivers that have been assessed to have more robust salmon stocks, river management often employ stringent measures, such as catch and release, to ensure Salmon numbers are maintained.

Applications for licences to conserve wild Atlantic salmon will consider the current grade of the river/area and additional conservation activities being undertaken such as mandatory or voluntary catch and release.

Please see the section on how to apply for a seal licence to conserve seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plants

In connection with the introduction of seals, other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plants to particular areas

There is no current evidence that licences to kill or take seals would need to be granted in connection with the introduction of seals, other wild animals or wild plants. This guidance will be updated as necessary if such evidence becomes available.

Protect a zoological or botanical collection

There is no current evidence that licences to kill or take seals would need to be granted for the protection of a zoological or botanical collection. This guidance will be updated as necessary if such evidence becomes available.

Prevent the spread of disease among seals or other animals (including birds) or plants

Although there is no current evidence that licences to kill or take seals would need to be granted to prevent the spread of a disease, if an organisation or person becomes aware of a risk to seals or other animals or plants due to the spread of a disease, they should immediately contact NatureScot and Marine Scotland to discuss the possible need for a licence and seek any other related advice.

Preserve public health or public safety

Marine Scotland recognises there may be some instances where the public are at risk of harm from seals, although these are likely to be rare and case specific therefore, please contact MS-LOT for advice on whether a situation is likely to be a public health and safety issue.

Other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment.

Determining whether a situation is one of imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI) is likely to be case specific. If you are considering whether your activity may fall within this, then the following factors may be relevant (adapted from Guidance Document on Article 6(4) of the 'Habitats Directive' 92/43/EEC ).

  • the public interest should be overriding, therefore not every kind of public interest of a social or economic nature would be sufficient
  • in this context, it seems also reasonable to assume that the public interest may only be overriding if it is a long-term interest; short term economic interests or other interests which would only yield short-term benefits for the society may not appear to be sufficient to outweigh the long-term interests.

It is reasonable to consider that the "imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of social and economic nature" refer to situations where plans or projects envisaged prove to be indispensable (e.g. actions aiming to protect fundamental values for human life (health, safety, environment) or carrying out activities of economic or social nature, fulfilling specific obligations of public service)


Contact

Email: seal.licensing@gov.scot