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Marine Concern was formed shortly after finding this dead seal pup. An associated NGO, Hebridean Marine National Park Partnership submitted the first EC complaint against the UK Authorities, Marine Concern submitted the second. The Scottish governments action and that of its Agencies were despicable. It is our opinion that Scotland's marine protection is little more than a paperwork exercise, hence the need for websites such as this, please share far and wide;-
People Power works, but people need to be informed.
One Bullet - Two Lives!
This common seal pup was found by a tour-boat operator on a known seal haul-out, close to a fish farm near Oban. Shooting had been heard in the area a week beforehand, the fish farm is known to shoot seals.
This was probably a case of 'one bullet - two lives'; it has been recorded that pregnant seals and lactating seals are shot indiscriminately. This pup died from emaciation, a long, painful, lonely death.
Marine Concern supporters recovered the body and buried it. Under the old Conservation of Seals Act 1970 there was no requirement to keep records, report the numbers of seals being shot or even to recover the bodies. This Act is still current in England and Wales.
This was the start of the second seal complaint to the European Commission under the Habitats Directive concerning the UK Authorities.
Conditions concerning the shooting of seals in Scotland changed with the introduction of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. Seals were still being shot but under licence issued by Marine Scotland. There are no independent checks, no restrictions to seals being shot during the breeding season; so, seals like the pup pic. above can now be shot legally. In the UK we pride ourselves on animal welfare, animals lovers.... not so much when profits are involved and the bullet remains the cheapest option.
There has been some respite, salmon farms are no longer issued licenses due to the US import legislation under the Marine Mammals Act.
In England and Wales under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970: Individual seals can no longer be controlled under the ‘netsman’s defence’ as this defence was removed from the legislation as of 1 March 2021.
Harbour Seals on one of the five component parts of the Lismore Seal Special Area of Conservation.
These seals are afforded 'protection' under the European Union Habitats Directive.
N.B. If more than three seals are looking at you, then you are too close!
This photo was taken during counts in order to counter false claims by SNH, now Nature Scot, re; numbers of seals within the SAC. Marine Concern's vessel turned the corner of this reef to find these concealed seals, then moved away.
Despite being protected, these seals are subjected varies types of harassment
including acoustic deterrents, by salmon farms.
This is also a 'hot-spot' for porpoise, porpoise are a 'protected species' and acoustic deterrents are known to cause them problems with echo location and hunting. Marine Scotland and Scottish government agencies do little, often nothing to prevent this form of abuse, sound pollution is a major issue at sea for these species.
Typical west coast vistas. We are an island race, our 'wellbeing' relies upon a range of factors, coastal regions and interaction with wildlife is a vital component. We owe it to our future generations to look after this environment. It is not ours, we are simply the guardians. Lack of wellbeing has a cost, the NHS is already at breaking point, how much more will be destroyed before we act and protect?
Common sights are sometimes not all that common and becoming more and more rare. Species are becoming extinct and certainly locally extinct. Animals unfortunately to bear the name 'common' are often most in peril.
The Moon, an Important part of
The Author/Lead Representative:
Mark Carter has been a conservationist and environmentalist for most of his life, from ancient woodlands to marine protected areas, he undertook a time-served apprenticeship and became a qualified self-employed farrier, he has served in the Royal Marine Reserves and Police. Mark was injured on duty in the Police and is now medically retired living on the west coast of Scotland. As Chairman of a Local Statutory Nature Reserve he received the Mayor of the local council for the official opening of a new Field Centre, which was involved with an active schools nature education scheme. He was Chair and founder member of Hebridean Marine National Park Partnership (Hebridean Partnership) where he regularly interacted with councils, communities, government agencies, government, politicians, organisations and companies. The latter two include fishing and aquaculture, and includes local fishermen and aquaculture operatives. He was also, Coordinator (to the numerous NGO’s) of the Seals Protection Groups during the deliberations of the Marine (Scotland) Bill.
He holds a Marine Science degree and a professional photographer's qualification, advanced qualifications in sea-kayaking, coastal power-boating and diving. He was the Principle/owner of an ‘Outdoor Activity Centre’ in Argyll, which also engaged in marine wildlife trips. He has lived on an island and in rural coastal communities for nearly 30 years. He has a background in lifeguarding/rescue extending for more than 30 years. He has experienced four of the World’s five oceans, including a 2,500 Nautical Mile expedition by Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) along the Canadian/Alaskan west coast, undertaken numerous English Channel crossings by RIB, day and night and visited/circumnavigated most of Scotland’s islands and coastline.
He has been involved with three European Commission’s Habitats Directive complaints, two of the protected areas are still closed to scallop dredging, many more have become established due to the work done. Environmental lobbying is often restricted by government and agencies as was the case during deliberations of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, in an attempt to draw attention to the polarised seal ‘management’ issue Mark went on hunger-strike for 70 days. Publicity of the biased system gained 7,000 website hits in 24 hours following a BBC World Service coverage! Seal shooting is now a licensed activity in Scotland (New for 2021: under the US restrictions, no longer for salmon farms) and many seal haul-out sites have been ‘designated’, providing further protection to two iconic species found in Scotland.
Mark is an advocate of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs/HPMAs), but in order for them to be effective he maintains that they MUST include areas of ‘No-take’, the Royal Commission’s Report, ‘Turning the Tide’ called for 30% No-Take-Zones and this is his target area. Encouraging, No-Take-Zones and local groups to become established, forming a network of people wanting real environmental protection, not what the government purport. His recent activity has been highlighting the potential for intimidation in remote coastal and island locations with regard to the introduction of 'protected' areas e.g., the recent media frenzy around the proposals for Highly Protected Marine areas (HPMAs). This includes challenging the Scottish governments quote that; - “37% is Protected", in reality Scotland only has close to 3.7% 'No-Take-Zones. He has engaged in outreach with the largest school in Ayrshire: Rubbish and the Marine Environment.
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NB. All photographic stills are copyright © of Mark-MC.