§ Sir Hector Monro
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to provide continuing protection for seals under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970, following the expiry of the two orders laid under section 3(1) in 1988.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
We have now laid before Parliament the Conservation of Seals (England) Order 1990 which provides permanent close-season protection for both common and grey seals for three years in an area stretching along the North sea coast from the border between England and Scotland to Newhaven on the south coast. This order will come into effect on 19 December, to coincide with the expiry of the orders laid in 1988.
My right hon. and learned Friend the former Secretary of State for Scotland has also laid the Conservation of Seals (Common Seals) (Shetland Islands Area) Order 1990 to provide similar protection for common seals in the Shetland Islands for one year while population surveys are carried out.
Both these orders have been laid following advice from the Natural Environment Research Council. The phocine distemper virus affected principally common seals in the southern part of the North sea. Because of the difficulties in identifying seals in the water, and to reduce the risk of a common seal being shot in mistake for a grey seal, the Conservation of Seals (England) Order 1990 extends to both common and grey seals.