HC Deb 15 November 1960 vol 630 cc194-5
26. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many grey seals were destroyed in Orkney this year; and why this destruction was necessary.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gilmour Leburn)

Between 1st September and 5th November, 164 seals were shot in Orkney during an experimental cull undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. The experiment was undertaken, in view of the widespread complaints of damage done by seals to salmon and marine fisheries, to establish the most humane and practicable methods of controlling the grey seal population, pending the result of further investigation about the nature and extent of the control needed.

Mr. Grimond

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if there is any evidence that these colonies of grey seals are in the places from which the main attacks on salmon are made? Do I understand that it is not suspected that grey seals spread disease among sea fish, as opposed to fresh water fish?

Mr. Leburn

There is some strong evidence that these seals are causing damage to salmon. On the second part about disease, I should like to look into that question, as there is not enough information available at the moment.

Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley

Is my hon. Friend aware that these engaging and discriminating creatures eat almost entirely salmon and sea trout, and that there is ample evidence of this in the recent Report made by Dr. Bennet Rae, of the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen, and published by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland? Is not my right hon. Friend right in seeking to limit the increasing population of grey seals?

Mr. Leburn

The first point I should like to make is that this was an experiment that was authorised to establish the most effective means of control. On the other point made by my hon. Friend, I accept that there is some strong evidence of damage to fisheries by seals, and it is for this reason that further investigations are going on.

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