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Scottish Minister of Economy expects seal killing becomes unnecessary in salmon farming in the near future. (Photo: Stock File)

Scotland fails attempt to exempt salmon farmers from US ban over seal killing

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 02:30 (GMT + 9)

Reports revealed by the British press indicate that Scottish government officials have secretly attempted to seek an exemption for Scottish fish farms from a United States import ban on salmon from farming centres killing marine mammals.

Marine Scotland officials argue that fish farms are licensed to kill the animals as a last resort to prevent them from attacking and eating salmon in the farm cages, BBC reported.

However, the efforts were unsuccessful, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) listing Scotland's industry as being officially covered by the ban.

Referring to the issue, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme he hopes the killing of seals may become unnecessary in the near future.

"We are working with the sector towards a situation where licences for the control of seals would no longer be necessary and are doing everything possible we can to ensure that the best environmental practice is followed and that we can use modern technological devices to scare the seals away from cages," the secretary pointed out.

On the other hand, Green environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell MSP welcomed the fact that the Scottish Government's secret lobbying of Trump's administration to weaken protection for seals has failed.

“If the government wants to avoid the collapse of a huge market for Scottish salmon, it must change the law to ban the intentional killing of seals by fish farms,” Ruskell warned.

Don Staniford, the campaigner who obtained the emails and now runs a new group called Scottish Salmon Watch, described seal shooting by salmon farmers as a “national disgrace”. He pointed out that some fish farm companies had succeeded in stopping the killing, but others carried on.

One of the groups that had campaigned for the US ban was the Scottish charity Save Our Seals Fund. It accused the Scottish Government of wasting 18 months trying to “dodge” the ban.

“By licensing seal shooting our government gives fish farmers in Scotland an unfair financial advantage over their American counterparts who invest large sums of money making their farms sea-mammal friendly,” said the charity’s John Robins.

To defend Scottish fish farmers, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation stressed it was committed to protecting fish welfare.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of predator seals shot to zero while still being able to protect our own fish stocks from predator attack,” said outgoing chief executive, Scott Landsburgh.

The US is the world's largest importer of seafood, buying about USD 20 billion of product every year, including Scottish salmon worth GBP 193 million last year.


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