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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Salmon fishing threat to seabirds
A Guillemot, picture courtesy of Scottish Seabird Centre
Up to 30 guillemots are dying each day at the Bullers of Buchan
An appeal has gone out for salmon farmers in Aberdeenshire to take action to help save the reduce deaths in a seabird colony.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) claim the nets are killing guillemots at the Bullers of Buchan.

They want Peterhead's Cruden Salmon Fishing Company to stop fishing near their nests or move up the coast.

The firm said it would not stop fishing unless it was paid compensation.

The SSPCA described the company's request as "ridiculous".

It is not unusual to see 20 or 30 dead birds a day
Mike Flynn

It said the fishermen were staking their nets directly below the guillemots' breeding area.

When the birds dive for food they become caught in the nets and drown from a combination of exhaustion and drowning.

SSPCA superintendent Mike Flynn said: "It is ridiculous for anyone killing any animal to ask for compensation.

"It is not unusual to see 20 or 30 dead birds a day.

"There are two solutions - either for the company not to fish in that area during breeding season or just move the nets.

"We are appealing to the company to change their policy."

Court case

The SSPCA went to court in 1998 but the procurator fiscal decided the birds' deaths were an incidental result of lawful action.

A spokesman for the Cruden Salmon Fishing Group said: "The issue first blew up six years ago and there were some people who were really distressed, so we offered to take the nets out as long as we were compensated for it.

"That was refused point blank by the Scottish SPCA.

"We have been here for generations - we are not going to run away from the problem.

"If the Scottish SPCA want to get in touch with us, they know where we are."

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01 Feb 04  |  Science/Nature
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27 Aug 03  |  Tyne/Wear

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