Seals: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd July 2021.

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Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Labour, Brent Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the safety and protection of seal populations along British coastlines.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Both native grey seal and harbour seal species are protected in the UK under relevant wildlife legislation. Please refer to the following link for details:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protected-marine-species/seals

In addition, recent Government amendments to the Fisheries Act 2020 offer stronger protection for seals. The amendments prevent the intentional or reckless killing of seals in English, Welsh and Northern Irish waters as a result of commercial fishing.

Together with the Seal Alliance, we launched a new Government-backed campaign ‘Give Seals Space’ earlier this year to reduce the impact that human disturbance can have on these vulnerable marine mammals.

Defra is also providing funding to understand better the specific threats that seals are facing along the UK coast. This includes additional surveys to strengthen our understanding of fluctuations in harbour seal populations and trialling non-lethal deterrents to reduce interactions between seals and fishing vessels.

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