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Scottish Government ordered to name fish farms where seals were shot

Ministers have been told to name the farms where seals were shot in 2013 and 2014.

Scottish Wild Salmon Company gunmen shooting seals in Crovie, Aberdeenshire on June 15 2015. Uploaded June 17 2015.
Sea Shepherd UK

The government has been ordered to reveal how many seals have been killed at each of Scotland's fish farms.

The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) told ministers to name the farms where seals were shot in 2013 and 2014 following a three-year battle by anti-fish farming campaigners.

Ministers warned workers could be intimidated if the information was made public - but their argument was overruled and the Scottish Government now has until August 21 to release the information.

The SIC said: "The commissioner does not accept that disclosing the requested information would prejudice substantially public safety. The commissioner requires ministers to disclose the seal killing forms submitted by salmon farms for the years 2013 and 2014 by Friday, 21 August."

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) said the move was a “notable victory”.

GAAIA director Don Staniford said: “Today's decisions are a shot in the arm for freedom of information and a shot across the bows of the bloody Scottish salmon farming industry. It is shameful that the Scottish salmon farming industry continues to kill seals and shocking that supermarkets still source seal-unfriendly farmed salmon.”

Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, said the number of seals shot has declined “dramatically” in recent years.

He said: “We have championed deterrence techniques that are designed to keep seals away from our fish, and shooting is always a last resort.”

Activists from controversial campaign group Sea Shepherd were involved in a stand-off with gunmen at Gamrie Bay in Moray last month. Sea Shepherd boats have been patrolling the bay since April in a bid to prevent seal killing.

The gunmen are fully licensed and legally entitled to shoot seals which threaten salmon fishing.

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