Seals

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to ban seal shooting in UK waters before the US Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provision Rule deadline of 1 January 2022.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is taking action to prevent the killing of seals in English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters as a result of commercial fishing. The Marine Management Organisation has not issued licences to kill or take seals in the last ten years under the Conservation of Seals Act for the purpose of preventing damage to fisheries. However, the ‘netsman’s defence’ provision in the Act allows the unlicensed shooting of seals to prevent damage to equipment, or fish within it, and where specific firearms and ammunition are used. We have tabled amendments to the Fisheries Bill that will, if passed, make it illegal to kill seals intentionally or recklessly. These amendments aim to ensure that UK fisheries exports are compliant with the US Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Scottish Parliament recently passed similar legislative changes via the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Act 2020.

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