Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 : PART 6 – Conservation
of Seals
Application for a Licence
to Shoot Seals to Protect the Health and
Welfare of Farmed Fish in Scotland
September 2011
Marine (Scotland) Act 2010
Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (the Act), section 107 it is an offence
intentionally or recklessly to kill, injure or take any seal except under specific licence
or for animal welfare reasons.
Under section 110 of the Act, Scottish Ministers have the authority to grant licences
to permit the killing or taking of seals for the following purposes:
for scientific, research or educational purposes,
to conserve natural habitats,
to conserve seals or other wild animals (including wild birds) or wild plants,
in connection with the introduction of seals, other wild animals (including wild
birds) or wild plants to particular areas,
to protect a zoological or botanical collection,
to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish,
to prevent serious damage to fisheries or fish farms,
to prevent the spread of disease among seals or other animals (including
birds) or plants,
to preserve public health or public safety, or for other imperative reasons of
overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and
beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment.
It is not an offence to kill or take a seal in accordance with a seal licence.
Marine Scotland is the licensing authority for issuing licences to shoot seals for
any of the purposes listed above.
This guidance relates specifically to applications under section 110 (f) of
the Act for licences to shoot seals to protect the health and welfare of
farmed fish.
Under this section, all fish farms will have to apply for a licence if they require to
shoot seals to protect the health and welfare of their farmed fish.
This guidance provides some additional clarification to assist with the process of
completing the associated Application Form.
The completed Application Form must be submitted by the deadline indicated by
Marine Scotland or the application will be delayed and may, in some
circumstances, be refused.
Marine Scotland will seek advice on each application from the Sea Mammal
Research Unit, Marine Scotland Science and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Scottish Ministers have made the following arrangements for the granting of seal
licences fish farms. It is known that seal predation can cause negative effects on the
health and welfare of farmed fish and, in such cases, limited shooting may be
necessary to protect the health and welfare of the fish. If granted, licences will
authorise shooting of a limited number of seals within an area specified and for a
period specified in the licence.
Licence Application Form
Section 1 - Name of Licence Applicant
This section requests details of the seal licence applicant.
This might be the name of the relevant owner or the name of the fish farm company
or the name of the local seal management group submitting the application,
Applications may come from the owner or a fish farming company.
Applications may also come, in some cases, from a local seal management group. In
such cases, the group should be able to supervise and monitor seal management
effectively since failure to do so may result, in some circumstances, in the refusal or
revocation of a seal licence (ie. If the maximum number is exceeded).
In both cases it should be noted that the only persons authorised to shoot seals
under licence will be those specifically named as nominated marksmen in Annex B
of the Application Form.
Section 2 - Fish Farms covered
This section requests the official name(s) of the fish farm(s) and Marine Scotland
Science fish farm site registration number(s).
Note:- Currently unregistered fish farms should not be included and will not be
covered by any licence issued.
Section 3 – Survey on Seals and Aquaculture
This section requests confirmation that you will complete the Marine Scotland Survey
on Seals and Aquaculture in support of your application for the current year.
Marine Scotland have commissioned this survey to allow Scottish Ministers to make
an informed decision on your licence application.
You will be provided with a link to this survey by the Marine Scotland Seal Licensing
Section 4 – Maximum number of seals
This section requests information on the numbers of seals of each species that an
applicant is seeking a licence to shoot. This should be based on a realistic
assessment of the numbers of seals that the applicant considers they may need to
shoot in order to protect the health and welfare of farmed fish from negative effects
caused by seals at their fish farm(s). It should, wherever possible, make use of
previous experience at the fish farm(s) concerned or, in cases where the fish farm is
newly established, at equivalent facilities whether in the same vicinity or of a similar
Marine Scotland will review the numbers requested in this section against the
Potential Biological Removal (PBR) figures for local seal populations for each seal
management area.
Note:- Even where a licence has been granted, shooting of a seal should always be
undertaken as a last resort. This is in accordance with the Scottish Salmon
Producers’ “A Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture”.
Note:- Seal identification guides will be issued with seal management licences.
They are also available from:
Section 5 – Reporting
This section provides information about the quarterly reporting requirements should
a seal licence subsequently be granted. This includes the date and location of each
seal shooting and species of each seal shot and, if possible, information on the
recovery of the carcase.
Note:- A copy of the Reporting form will be provided with a seal licence if granted. It
is also available to download from:
Section 6 – Training Courses
This section requests information on the qualifications of nominated marksmen.
Note:- Any copies of nominated marksmen’s training or accreditation certificates or
letters will be held by Marine Scotland.
Note:- Marine Scotland must not grant a seal licence unless it is satisfied that any
nominated marksman has adequate skills and experience.
Section 7 – Data Protection and Freedom of Information
This section seeks to make you aware that Scottish Ministers may be obliged to
make certain information available to meet their legal duties.
Note:- The information supplied on the application form will be held by the Scottish
Ministers. Scottish Ministers are a Scottish public authority and so have duties under
the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and the Freedom of
Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to provide certain types of information held by them.
The 2004 Regulations are most likely to apply to information about licences to shoot
seals because it is likely to be environmental information. There are some
exceptions to the duty e.g. to protect the confidentiality of commercial information.
Also if the information is personal data (as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998)
then, subject to certain conditions, the duty to make it available does not apply.
Annex A
This section requests information on individual contact who will deal with any
correspondence concerning the application (or any licence which may subsequently
be issued),
Annex B
This section requests information on the named individual(s) that the applicant
wishes to be authorised to shoot seals under licence. This will include names,
addresses, details of the firearms and firearms certificates.
Note:- It is a requirement of the Act that a seal licence must specify the method that
the licensee must use to kill seals and that in respect of shooting it must specify the
type of firearm which must be used. In addition, Scottish Ministers must not grant a
seal licence authorising a person to kill seals by shooting unless they are satisfied
that the person has adequate skills and experience in using firearms.
Licences will only be granted to persons holding a valid firearm certificate
for a rifle meeting the requirements of the seal licence conditions. That is, a
rifle using ammunition with a muzzle energy not less than 600 foot pounds
and a bullet weighing not less than 45 grains. This effectively excludes any
0.22 rimfire rifles. Only centrefire rifles can be used, with the 0.22 Hornet
using 45 grain bullets representing the lowest acceptable combination of
bullet weight and energy.
Note:- During 2011 Marine Scotland will be undertaking ballistic testing on a range
of rifles to ascertain whether or not they may be appropriate for this purpose. The
results of these tests may lead to changes in the firearms defined to be used for seal
management under licence in future years.
Seal Licence Conditions
Licence Conditions
The Act specifies that a seal licence which authorises the killing of seals by shooting
must impose conditions in respect of:
The specific method which the licensee must use to kill seals.
The type of firearm which must be used.
The maximum number of seals which may be killed.
The weather conditions in which a person may attempt to kill a seal.
How close a person must be to a seal before attempting to shoot it.
Prohibiting a person from attempting to shoot a seal from an unstable
In relation to the recovery of carcases.
The steps which must be taken in relation to any seal injured when attempting
to kill it in accordance with the licence in order to reduce the risk of it suffering
The Act further provides that a seal licence may impose conditions in respect of:
The period of validity of the licence.
The area in which seals may be killed.
The species of seal which may be killed.
The circumstances in which seals may be killed.
Any period during which seals may not be killed or taken, for example, when
females of the species of seal for which the licence has been issued are likely
to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy or have dependent pups.
Other conditions may be applied as appropriate
Note:- Failure to comply with a condition imposed on a seal licence is an
General Issues
A full copy of each licence granted will be sent to the local constabulary in the area
to which licence applies.
Licences may be suspended or revoked at any time and should then be surrendered
to Marine Scotland immediately.
When to apply for a licence
All licence applications must be submitted by the deadline announced by Marine
Scotland which will be at least six weeks prior to the period to which the licence
How to apply for a licence
Applications for a licence should be made on the relevant application form, which
should be completed and sent to:
Seal Licensing
Marine Scotland
Marine Laboratory
PO Box 101
375, Victoria Road
AB11 9DB
Tel No:
01224 295579
[email protected]
Note:- Failure to complete any relevant section of the form may result in delays
in the processing of your application and may, in some circumstances, result
in refusal of a licence.
Note:- Marine Scotland or their representatives may visit the site during assessment
of an application in order to verify information provided on the application form and to
discuss, for example, any current or past negative effects, or any preventative
measures currently employed or used in the past.
Licensing Process
Marine Scotland will consult with Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Natural
Heritage and Marine Scotland Science about each application on a case by case
basis. It will then consider the merits of each individual application in light of
consultees comments and in the context of the PBR.
Seal Licence
Marine Licensing
Consultation with
Statutory Advisers
Marksmen Skills &
Experience Checks
Marine Policy
Police Firearm
Licence Checks
Marine Licensing
Seal Licence
Seal Licence Issued
Marine Policy