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The Scottish Government has responsibility for the conservation and management of seal populations in Scottish waters on the basis of independent scientific advice provided by the Natural Environment Research Council's Special Committee on Seals.

Seals and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

On 10 March 2010, Scotland's Marine Bill received Royal Assent, making it the Marine (Scotland) Act. The Act includes significant changes to current seal legislation.

It introduced enhanced seal protection measures whilst allowing for appropriate management under a new seal licensing system.

More information about the new seal licensing system is also available in the seal licensing pages or contact the seal licensing team.

Designated Haul-Outs

The Act also allowed Scottish Ministers to provide additional protection for seals at designated haul-outs - the locations on land where seals come ashore to rest.

Annual Advice on Seal Populations

Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2010, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has a duty to provide scientific advice to the Scottish Government on matters related to the management of seal populations. NERC has appointed the Special Committee on Seals (SCOS) to formulate this advice.

This advice is given annually based on the latest scientific information provided to SCOS by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). SMRU also provides to government scientific reviews of applications for licences to shoot seals, along with information and advice in response to parliamentary questions and correspondence.

The annual report from SCOS consists of:

See latest SCOS Annual Report

Scottish Seals Forum

Scottish Seals Forum brought together stakeholders with an interest in seal issues. The Forum provided an opportunity to inform the conservation and management of Scottish seal populations.