The Scottish Government is to introduce a ban on killing seals apart from in strictly licensed zones. The proposal is contained in the new Marine Bill, published yesterday, which is aimed at boosting the economy while strengthening conservation at the same time.
Among the other key measures are:
- A new marine planning framework so that increasing use of the seas for energy, fishing, aquaculture, recreation and other purposes is well managed.
- A new planning system to create a more stable environment for investment.
- New marine planning partnerships involving local agencies, communities and stakeholders to ensure a strong local voice.
- A simpler licensing system to reduce the administrative burden and cut bureaucracy, helping to reduce business costs in key growth areas such as renewable energy.
- Improved marine nature and historic conservation to safeguard and protect Scotland’s unique habitats, wildlife and marine archaeology and wrecks.
- Full regulation of seal management giving much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system. Launching the Bill at Edinburgh’s Newhaven Harbour yesterday, rural affairs and environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “We are repealing the existing seals’ legislation – which is 40 years old – and introducing a ban on the shooting of seals except within a well-managed licence system.”
He went on: “Today marks an exciting milestone. Our seas support tens of thousands of jobs, generate billions of pounds for our economy, put food on our tables and are set to play an increasing role in powering our nation through wind and wave power.
“We are introducing the framework to help deliver a new future for Scotland’s seas. Our Marine Bill aims to maximise economic growth while ensuring future generations can still enjoy this world class environment.” Lloyd Austin, head of conservation Policy for RSPB Scotland, said: “Scotland’s seas and coasts are arguably our most precious natural resource, and with this Bill we could become a world-beater in conserving the marine environment. Our seas bring us jobs and pros-perity from our marine indu-stries and our amazing wildlife.”