Seal protection laws introduced

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Laws banning the killing of seals in Scotland without a licence have come into force.

The legislation, part of the Marine (Scotland) Act passed by Holyrood last year, is aimed at regulating seal shooting and protecting animal welfare.

It makes it an offence to kill or injure a seal, except under licence, and carries a penalty of up to six months imprisonment or a heavy fine.

A new licensing system and seal conservation areas around Scotland have also been introduced.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “These seal management measures deliver a significant improvement to how we manage the impact of seal predation on fisheries and fish farms around our coast.”

The measures have been implemented by Marine Scotland, which will issue the first annual licences for those who need to manage seal numbers to prevent damage to their fishery, or to protect farmed fish.

The organisation is considering 66 licence applications, which, where granted, will specify the maximum numbers of grey or common seals each licensee may shoot.

Conservation areas in Moray Firth, Shetland, Orkney, Firth of Tay and the Western Isles are designed to protect local populations of common seals.

Source: UKPA