§ Sir J. Duncan
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what advice he has received from the Nature Conservancy regarding the increase in the breeding colony of grey seals on the Fame Islands which are doing increasing damage to Scottish fisheries;181W
(2) whether he is aware that grey seals are getting so numerous on the east side of Great Britain that they are spreading up to the Angus coast and damaging fisheries; and whether he is now in a position to announce his plans for dealing with this problem.
§ Mr. Maclay
I have had reports of increased damage by both grey and common seals from many parts of the Scottish coast. In its Report for the year ended 30th September, 1957, the Nature Conservancy summarised the evidence it had obtained about the breeding colony of grey seals on the Fame Islands, noted the increase which has occurred and made these recommendations:
- (1) Research and observations on seals should continue as at present.
- (2) A new programme sponsored by the Scottish Home Department should attempt to discover means of protecting nets against seals.
- (3) As an experimental and interim measure, further increases in the grey seal should be limited by an annual cull of 300 calves, if authorised by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, by order under the Grey Seals Protection Act, 1932.
My Department is arranging for experiments under head (2) of these recommendations and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I are considering the proposal under head (3) in consultation with the interests concerned.