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Marine Scotland
Seal Licensing Team

Email: seal.licensing@gov.scot

Seal Licensing Review Report

Under Section 129 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, a report on a review of the operation of the seal licensing system is required within 5 years of Section 110 of the Act coming into force on 1 September 2010.

This report covers 4 complete licensing years, namely 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the period from 31 January 2011 to 31 January 2015 and considers all aspects of the operation of the seal licensing system including all developments and improvements that took place during the period, previous interim reviews into the operation of the system and any significant changes made in the light of all of these.

The report was the subject of consultation with the Natural Environment Research Council as required by the Marine Act.

Topic Sheets

Seal Licensing

Photo of SealOn 31 January 2011, Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force.

Part 6 seeks to balance seal conservation with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and its introduction means:

  • It is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence or for welfare reasons, outlawing unregulated seal shooting that was permitted under previous legislation
  • A number of seal conservation areas around Scotland will begin to be introduced, designed to protect vulnerable, declining Common Seal populations
  • A new seal licensing system, providing a well-regulated and monitored context for seal management in Scotland, has been introduced

Two graphs are now available to download showing:

  • The comparison between the numbers requested in seal management applications and the actual numbers granted by Marine Scotland from 2011 to 2018.
  • The comparison between the numbers granted in the licence against actual numbers shot from 2011 to 2018.

2019 Seal Licences

Marine Scotland received 45 applications for seal licences and all have been granted. 

Table 1 below provides a full breakdown. (This information is correct as of 31 January 2019.)

Table 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Application Type Received

 

Licence Type Granted

 

Seal Management Area

Protection of Health & Welfare

Prevention of Serious Damage

Total

Protection of Health & Welfare

Prevention of Serious Damage

Total

East Coast

0

4

4

0

4

4

Moray Firth

0

1

1

0

1

1

Orkney & North Coast

2

5

7

2

5

7

Shetland

3

0

3

3

0

3

South West Scotland

2

2

4

2

2

4

Western Isles

7

3

10

7

3

10

West Scotland

13

3

16

13

3

16

Total

27

18

45

27

18

45

The 27 licences issued for protection of health and welfare and one issued for prevention of serious damage, cover a total of 215 individual fish farms.  The other 17 licences issued for prevention of serious damage cover rivers and estate fisheries.

The maximum number of seals involved is 228 Grey and 108 Common. Tables 2 and 3 below provide details. This maximum represents 0.2% of the minimum Grey seal population of 106,250 and 0.41% of the minimum Common seal population of 26,565 (Ref: SCOS-BP 18/08).

Table 2 – Grey Seal

 

 

 

Grey Seals Shot

Seal Management Area

Total applied for

PBR*

Total  granted

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

East Coast

21

845

12

0

1

0

 

Moray Firth

40

275

18

4

2

3

 

Orkney & North Coast

112

2249

47

0

4

4

 

Shetland

44

360

37

2

0

3

 

South West Scotland

30

86

12

0

0

0

 

Western Isles

149

1336

43

5

5

7

 

West Scotland

166

1219

59

4

3

1

 

Total

562

6370

228

15

15

18

 

The maximum number of Grey seals allowed on licences granted in 2019 is the same as the number of grey seals allowed on the previous year’s licences. 

 

Table 3 – Common Seal

 

 

 

Common Seals Shot

Seal Management Area

Total applied for

PBR*

Total  granted

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

East Coast

12

2

0

0

0

0

 

Moray Firth

6

5

0

0

0

0

 

Orkney & North Coast

10

8

3

0

0

0

 

Shetland

5

20

3

0

0

0

 

South West Scotland

28

50

13

0

0

0

 

Western Isles

59

105

17

3

1

2

 

West Scotland

195

667

72

3

0

7

 

Total

315

857

108

6

1

9

 

The maximum number of Common seals allowed on licences granted in 2019 represents an increase of 5.9% compared to the previous year’s licences.

*Potential Biological Removal (PBR) is the number of individual seals that can be removed from the population without causing a decline in the population, and is calculated annually by Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) using the latest seal counts.

A full list of licences issued in 2019 by region and company, with the number of seals shot so far, by site, is available to download.

For more information, a series of frequently asked questions and answers on the implementation of the new seal legislation was produced 2011.