Scottish govt reveals data on seals shot by salmon farmers

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 11:43 GMT, Aug 30, 2015 |

The Scottish Information Commissioner ordered the Scottish government to release data on seals shot by the individual salmon farmers. Accordingly, there were 176 seals killed in the past two years. But the numbers shot have declined steadily since 2011.

Producers of farmed salmon are issued with licences which allow seals to be shot to protect fish stocks. The Scottish government publishes headline figures online regarding licences and shootings on a quarterly basis.

But campaigners have long argued detailed information about the number of seals being shot should be published, to enable consumers to make informed choices about whether or not to buy farmed salmon. But the ministers refused their requests as they think the fish farm staff, and their families, could receive threats if the information was released.

But the Information Commissioner did not accept that disclosing the information would represent a substantial threat to public safety and ordered its release last month. Accordingly, the newly released figures have a level of detail which reveals for the first time exactly which salmon farms shot seals to protect their stock.

The majority of seals were shot at farms owned by Scottish Sea Farms (58), Hjaltland Sea Farms (38) and The Scottish Salmon Company (23) during the two-year period.

However, the number of seals shot at Hjaltland Sea Farms reduced drastically from 32 to six between 2013 and 2014. Its location at Lax Firth on Shetland killed 24 seals over the two years.