Download press release in full as a PDF online here
According to the Scottish Government, 80% of salmon farms in Scotland still do not use anti-predator nets and 67% do not use seal blinds despite claims that seals are only shot as a 'last resort' . Read exclusively in today's Sunday Times: "Seal killing slips through the net".
The damning revelation comes as the number of seals killed on Scottish salmon farms has leapt by 20 per cent. In fact, nearly 700 seals have been killed on salmon farms in Scotland since 2011 with over 50 during the first seven months of 2015. Campaigners will be in London next month asking Xmas shoppers on Oxford Street to boycott 'seal-unfriendly' farmed salmon.
"These shocking figures blow out of the water claims by the salmon farming industry and the RSPCA that seals are shot only as a 'last resort'," said Don Staniford, Director of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture. "Trigger-happy salmon farmers are reaching for their guns first and anti-predator nets last. Sadly, bullets are much cheaper than nets and Scottish salmon is as cheap as it is nasty. People buying Scottish salmon this Xmas have the blood of dozens of seals on their hands. Stop the seal slaughter in Scotland by boycotting Scottish salmon."
The revelation that the vast majority of salmon farms in Scotland do not use anti-predator nets and seal blinds came in a letter from Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, in reply to a query from Roderick Campbell MSP. "I agree that it is deeply unfortunate that some salmon farms consider it necessary to shoot seals," said Roderick Campbell MSP, the species champion for the Harbour seal, in an email to GAAIA . "I recognise the need to protect very valuable fish stocks, but I also appreciate that this should not come at the cost of lives of seals."
"I am pleased to support those campaigning for an end to seal deaths," said Alison Johnstone, Member of the Scottish Parliament, who joined a protest outside M&S in Edinburgh last month. "People buying farmed salmon in Scotland will be appalled to learn that there is no requirement on salmon producers to have nets to deter seals. If those making vast profits from salmon sales aren’t prepared to invest in this preventative measure, they cannot claim that shooting a seal is a last resort. It is a lazy, greedy response that contradicts the image the producers and our supermarkets seek to promote and it has to stop."
"The price for 'seal-friendly' farmed salmon is the installation of anti-predator nets and that could be £1 million for each salmon farm," continued Staniford. "Given that there are currently 143 active salmon farms in Scotland then the cost could be over £100 million. Until all salmon farms install anti-predator nets consumers should boycott all Scottish salmon - even RSPCA Assured, Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified and Soil Association-certified 'organic' salmon which all shamefully endorse the killing of seals. Next time you're in a supermarket or restaurant please ask whether a seal died for your salmon meal."
Shamefully, the RSPCA as well as other certification bodies such as the Soil Association and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council sanction the killing of seals as a 'last resort' . The RSPCA brands over 70% of Scottish salmon farms as 'welfare friendly' via the RSPCA Assured (formerly Freedom Food) scheme (read more via "RSPCA Assured seal killers!").
'Seal friendly' salmon is possible - some salmon farmers such as Grieg Seafood (Hjaltland Seafarms) have virtually eliminated the killing of seals by installing 'Eco-Nets' at a cost of £40,000 per cage (£1 million for a 25-cage farm). "From shooting too many seals we've gone to shooting nothing," claimed Grieg Seafood's production manager Grant Cumming in The Shetland Times last month .
The latest data obtained from the Scottish Government via Freedom of Information  reveals that Scottish Seafarms, the Scottish Salmon Company and Marine Harvest are still slaughtering seals. In the first seven months of 2015 (January to July), a total of 51 seals were killed on salmon farms in Scotland with Marine Harvest killing 15 seals, Scottish Seafarms killing 12 and the Scottish Salmon Company killing 11.
By contrast, Grieg Seafood (Hjaltland Seafarms) has killed only one seal thus far in 2015 - a drastic decrease from the 50 seals killed in 2011, 49 in 2012, 30 in 2013 and 6 in 2014. Meanwhile, Marine Harvest has recently increased the number killed with 15 dead seals already during the first seven months of 2015 compared to 7 during the whole of 2014 and 5 during 2013.
The two worst sites - both slaughtering five seals - were Gometra, Isle of Mull (The Scottish Salmon Company) and Sconser, Isle of Skye (Marine Harvest). Other salmon farms killing more than two seals were Toyness, Orkney (Scottish Seafarms) with four seals killed and Invasion Bay, Loch Sunart (Marine Harvest) and Shuna Sound (Marine Harvest) where three seals were killed.
Of the 51 seals killed this year (January to July 2015), zero carcasses were recovered or collected and only three were reported to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme. Out of 173 seals killed during 2013 and 2014 a total of 19 carcasses (11%) were reported, 16 carcasses recovered (9%) and only one carcass (<1%) collected (read more via "Appendix: Companies, Regions & Sites").
An exclusive analysis by GAAIA of all the data made available by the Scottish Government (i.e. for the first two quarters of 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011) reveals that nearly 700 seals have been killed by salmon farmers since 2011 when official Scottish Government statistics were first collected. Scottish Seafarms (who exclusively supply Marks & Spencer) are Scotland's worst serial killers with 150 dead seals followed by Grieg Seafood Hjaltland (136 seals killed), the Scottish Salmon Company (128 seals killed) and Marine Harvest (76 seals killed).
GAAIA is organising protests in London outside M&S and Selfridges on Oxford/Orchard Street (9 December) and outside the RSPCA's head office in Horsham, West Sussex (10 December) - details online here. The message from protestors (and the seals) is simple: Stop shooting seals for salmon meals!
Download press release in full as a PDF online here
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Read more news via:
"RSPCA Assured Seal Killers!" (23 November 2015)
"M&S Caught in Cross-Fire Over Seal-Killing on Scottish Salmon Farms" (2 November 2015)
"Stop shooting seals for salmon meals - protest outside M&S in Edinburgh" (30 October 2015)
"Stop shooting seals for salmon meals!" (22 October 2015)
"Did a seal die for your salmon meal?" (9 October 2015)
"RSPCA attacked for its policy on seal shooting" (9 October 2015)
"RSPCA: Seals should be shot as an 'absolute last resort' to protect salmon" (9 October 2015)
"Salmon farmers under fire for shooting seals" (8 October 2015)
"Seals in Shetland are getting into deep water with the salmon industry" (8 October 2015)
"Shetland fish farms top seal shooting list" (3 September 2015)
"Mapped: every Scottish salmon farm that shot seals" (2 September 2015)
"UK retailers may face ‘zombie seal’ protests over farmed salmon" (2 September 2015)
"Anti-fish farm campaigners propose boycott to defend seals" (1 September 2015)
"Seal shooting figures released after campaign by animal rights activists" (30 August 2015)
"Figures reveal salmon farms that shoot seals" (30 August 2015)
"Named and shamed: the Scottish salmon farms shooting seals" (30 August 2015)
"Data reveals third of Scots fish farms have shot seals" (30 August 2015)
"Media Splash for Seal-Killing Salmon Farms!" (8 July 2015)
"D Day for Seal-Killing Salmon Farms" (6 July 2015)
For more information please see GAAIA's "The Killing Farms"
Read a letter to retailers (30 November 2015) online here