Statistics from Salmon Scotland show that 516,000 fish were killed by seals in 2020.
Until the start of this year salmon farms in Scotland could shoot seals as a last resort and about 50 were killed annually. Earlier this year, however, the power was rescinded by the Scottish government because it put in jeopardy Scotland’s £180 million salmon exports to the US, which plans to ban trade with countries that kill seals to protect fisheries.
Now anglers, who have long claimed the moral high ground and blamed salmon farms for the collapse in wild salmon stocks, have called for “rogue predator” seals to be culled or relocated as part of efforts to protect wild salmon.
According to The Times, the petition calls for district salmon fishery boards to “remove rogue seals slaughtering salmon on the spawning redds” — the nests that trout and salmon build to lay their eggs.
It says: “Seals have a significant role in the decline of salmon stocks. Nature requires corrective measures put in place. It’s no more right for seals to attack salmon on their spawning redds as it is for a dog to attack a farmer’s sheep in a field.”
According to the petition, the salmon population is “collapsing” which puts at risk the £150 million of revenue generated by anglers.
Statistics from Salmon Scotland, the trade body, show that 516,000 fish were killed by seals in 2020. In the eight months to the end of August, a further 348,000 salmon were killed.
Hamish Macdonnell, director of strategic engagement at Salmon Scotland, said: “Seals are a real issue for our farmers. What we would like to see is proper dialogue.”
The Scottish government said: “We will review the species licensing system and carry out a review.”