We must demand seal-safe farmed salmon

Updated 12 July 2015

In a poll sixty-four per cent of the UK public would be against farmed salmon if it involved the killing of seals. Despite this, salmon farmers in Scotland shoot hundreds of grey and harbour seals that are said to be a threat to salmon or the sea-cage net holding them.

Seal shot and killed in Orkney, Scotland.

Unofficially, many more seals are killed around the UK by people involved with commercial fishing and salmon farming that pose no danger whatsoever to the profitability of their businesses.

Even seals near RSPCA Assured salmon farms aren't safe. RSPCA-accredited farms account for a quarter of all seals shot in Scotland.

The UK has forty per cent of the world's population of grey seals (164,000) and 20,000 harbour seals, a population that has seen some drastic declines in recent years.

Seals are intelligent mammals that feed on fish, a bit like dolphins and porpoises, but in the mind of the UK seafood business that's where the similarity ends.

In 1990 the 'dolphin-safe' label was introduced by the US Dept. of Commerce and has spread so successfully around the world that it is now universally accepted that you make canned tuna as cetacean-friendly as possible.

If this can be achieved for a wild-caught pelagic species like tuna then why are we still having to slaughter seals in order to protect salmon that are being farmed in highly controlled sites?

We've learnt our lesson with dolphin-safe tuna, we must now demand seal-safe salmon.