This week has seen the Scottish Government approve 194 designated protection sites for seals. A draft order has been drawn up to implement this protection and states that as of the 30 September of this year, it will be an offence to recklessly or intentionally harass the animals within these designated sites.
The selected haul-out sites are isolated locations around Scotland’s coastline, where seals come ashore to rest, breed or moult. Together with the existing network of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for seals, they will protect at least half of the grey and common (or harbour) seals that populate our seas.
The total of 194 sites selected consists of:
• 149 haul-out sites consisting of 62 used by common (harbour) seals, 20 used by grey seals and a further 67 shared by both species
• 45 grey seal breeding sites, used specifically during the breeding season (September – December)
Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead commented on the approval saying; “Seals are one of Scotland’s most iconic species and that is why we have introduced a raft of new measures to better protect them. Haul-out sites are key to the success of both grey and common seals and this list represents an important step in their conservation.”