Scottish salmon farmers reject seal campaigners’ claims –

Scottish salmon farmers reject seal campaigners’ claims Published:  29 July, 2009

The Scottish salmon farming industry has denounced campaigners’ claims about the numbers of seals shot around fish farms.

In a press release about a new opinion poll on public attitudes to seals, the campaigners, from the Seal Protection Action Group and International Animal Rescue, claimed that thousands of seals are shot in Scottish waters each year.

However Scott Landsburgh, Chief Executive of the industry’s trade body, Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO), said today: “Scottish fish farmers are absolutely infuriated that these campaigners continue to peddle unfounded and utterly inaccurate information about how we safeguard our salmon from predators.

“Despite industry providing information to them, the media, the Scottish Government and politicians about the range of methods employed across the industry to deter predatory seals, the campaigners will not understand that they have simply no grounds to be making these damaging and misleading claims.

“It is also a highly misleading survey containing a series of leading questions designed to elicit a reaction. By deliberately implying that an officially sanctioned cull of seals has begun, this is an extraordinarily inaccurate representation of government policy.

“Salmon farmers have a moral and legal obligation to protect their fish and use a range of acoustic and netting methods to deter seals from attacking pens. One rogue seal can viciously kill many hundreds of fish in one attack. Sometimes, persistent rogue seals have to be shot in the same way foxes attacking chicken coops have to be. During 2008, the industry shot 489 seals in total.

“This is a highly responsible industry, working closely with regulators, international bodies and economic and environmental agencies, to enhance its already significant importance to Scotland’s economy, especially in fragile, rural communities. Everything we do is aimed at developing the industry in a positive and sustainable way. Ill-informed hysteria from campaigners is very unhelpful.”