Fish farms will be forced to reveal how many seals they shoot
Campaigners are hailing a landmark victory after forcing the Scottish Government to reveal how many seals are shot at salmon farms each year.
The Scottish Information Commissioner has said ministers failed to comply with regulations and must now release the data.
Government ministers had said disclosing the information could expose fish farm staff and their families to threats from activists.
But campaigners argue information about the number of seals being shot should be published to give consumers the full details of what salmon farming involves.
Scottish Ministers will now have until 21 August to publish figures showing the numbers of seals shot by salmon farms.
The decision is a shot across the bows of the bloody Scottish salmon farming industry
Earlier this year OneKind wrote to the commissioner to voice concerns that data relating to seal licence returns from both farms and fisheries were no longer publicly available.
The charity’s Libby Anderson said it is essential that information about seal shootings is publicly available in order to ensure accountability by licence holders and by the issuing body, Marine Scotland.
She added: “The killing of seals as they perform their natural predator behaviour has long been beset by animal suffering and negative impacts on populations, and any measure that helps to mitigate those effects is to be supported.”
Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture called it a landmark victory.
He said: "Today's decisions are a shot in the arm for freedom of information and a shot across the bows of the bloody Scottish salmon farming industry.
"Now the public will be able to boycott salmon from lethal salmon farms.
"It is shameful that the Scottish salmon farming industry continues to kill seals and shocking that supermarkets still source seal-unfriendly farmed salmon."
Chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, Scott Landsburgh, said the number of seals shot by salmon farmers had declined dramatically in recent years.
He added: "We have championed deterrence techniques that are designed to keep seals away from our fish, and shooting is always a last resort."
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government has received Decisions 102/2015 and 103/2015 from the Scottish Information Commissioner, which relate to FOI requests by Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture for information about numbers of seals shot and related correspondence and seal killing return forms for salmon farms for 2013 and 2014.
"We are currently considering their terms."