Labour MSP Alasdair Morrison stirred up plenty of controversy in April with his suggestion that Scotland follow Canada’s lead in resuming seal hunting.
Culls are not unique to the Outer Hebrides or indeed to other parts of Scotland. It happens in terms of mink, hedgehog and deer, and again, if required, it should also happen with the seal population around the Hebrides and around the British Isles.
According to the Scotsman, about 38 percent of the world’s population of grey seals and 40 percent of European common seals are found in Britain, and of those about 90 percent breed in Scotland. Seal hunting was banned in 1978 after negative publicity over the Canadian seal hunt.
Scotland’s Advocates for Animals was not happy with Morrison’s suggestion, with a spokesman telling The Scotsman,
Increasingly, seals are being persecuted in the name of fisheriesÂ’ protection when commercial overfishing is the real problem. Time and time again, the fishing industry claim stocks are not recovering because of the seals, but the industry needs to look at itself. The issue over seals has grown in international importance and it is our duty to protect them.
Regardless, a seal hunt is not going to happen anytime soon in Scotland. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive told The Scotsman, “The Scottish Executive has no plans for a seal cull. Evidence suggests that in general seals do not have a significant impact on fisheries stocks.”
Fury over call to cull Scotland’s seals. Andrew Denholm, The Scotsman, April 19, 2004.