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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Fishermen support seal cull call
Scottish fisherman have backed calls to cull Scotland's seals
Fishermen in the Outer Hebrides have backed calls for a seal cull to protect fish stocks.

Western Isles Fishermen's Association urged the Scottish Executive to follow Canada's lead, where more than 300,000 of the mammals have been killed.

But animal activists and tourist chiefs are outraged at the thought of killing any of Scotland's 210,000 seals.

However, the association said the vast number of the mammals has grown out of balance with the marine environment.

'Right approach'

The association's secretary Duncan Macinnes said Canada had "the right approach".

He said: "Year after year, we hear of what fisherman are allowed to catch, yet the seal population is allowed to increase at the rate of 6% annually.

"The seal colony on the Monach Islands off North Uist has increased from 6,000 to 30,000 in the last 30 years and that colony is eating 75,000 tonnes of fish annually. That puts it in perspective - and that is just one colony of seals.

"The number of seals has grown out of balance with the marine environment. We strongly support a cull - provided it is done humanely.

"It would make far more sense if fishermen were allowed to catch more fish and the seals were eating less."

Scientific proof

He stressed any cull would have to be backed by scientific evidence.

But First Minister Jack McConnell has ruled out any killing of the animals in Scottish waters.

He told MSPs that independent scientific evidence suggested a cull was neither appropriate nor necessary.

MSP backing Scottish seal cull
18 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Canada completes main seal cull
14 Apr 04  |  Americas
Canada embarks on mass seal hunt
13 Apr 04  |  Americas
Canada seal hunt draws protests
13 Apr 04  |  Americas

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