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The Seal Defence Campaign of Sea Shepherd UK sent a crew on Sunday to the Thurso area on northern Scotland after receiving reports that seals were being shot at Dunney and Murkle Bays.

According to Sea Shepherd, the three-people crew immediately came across two USAN Salmon Fisheries Ltd (aka Scottish Wild Salmon Company – SWSC) employees trying to kill seals.

The crew also found leader nets deployed on Murkle bay, despite ‘fishing regulations stating that their leader nets have to be removed from the water to allow some wild salmon to make it past the nets over the weekend,’ Sea Shepherd explained.

While the team was inspecting the area, they saw a SWSC employee next to a SWSC truck who ‘soon moved away’ and two other employees on the beach. One of the men was ‘actively shooting’ the water with a rifle and the other one was carrying a gun case and ammunition.

Two of the crew bravely put themselves between the SWSC employees and the seals and after a 30-minute standoff, the SWSC employees left the beach and called to police, even though it was a public beach.

The Sea Shepherd crew also contacted the police to report illegal Salmon netting during the weekend. One of the SWSC employees admitted they were illegally fishing on a Sunday.

The SWSC employees were also shooting seals on a Sunday, which was either for sport or to keep them away of their illegal wild Salmon catch. ‘Sea Shepherd UK is investigating whether this breaches the conditions under which they were granted a licence to shoot seals under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.’

One seal was found dead about 100 meters from where the SWSC employees were located. The seal appeared to have been dead for a few days. The finding was reported to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme.

This is not the first time Sea Shepherd come across these two SWSC employees. Back in April, May and June Sea Shepherd crews also prevented them from further killing of seals in that location.

Last year, SWSC admitted to killing 18 seals during the same period. Local reports suggest the number was much higher.

Sea Shepherd crews face all kinds of threats and danger during their patrols. Back in 19 April they wrote on their website: ‘One senior member of their party, accompanied by a rifle carrying employee, shouted in front of children and other holidaymakers the threat that he would make us wish we were back in Japan.’

Two days later they wrote: ‘In a dramatic 8 a.m. confrontation which took place away from the Harbour in the town’s New Ground, three employees of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company, one carrying a rifle, cornered just one of our crew members leaving him fearful of extreme violence.

‘Having the presence of mind to keep his camera running throughout, the situation was saved when other members of the Sea Shepherd campaign crew arrived with their own cameras. Realising that any further illegal acts on their part were being recorded, the thugs backed away and returned to their command base.’

Luckily for seals, Sea Shepherd volunteers have a very clear mission to save animals and they are willing and ready to achieve it at any cost.

‘Sea Shepherd refuse to back down in the face of intimidation such as this and will continue to stand against marine wildlife killers no matter what threats are made.

‘All Sea Shepherd UK activists are committed to stand in front of any rifle aimed at a defenceless seal by the Scottish Wild Salmon Company or by any other seal killers.’

Sea Shepherd will continue to patrol the Thurso area and two other locations. They also have a permanent crew in the Gamrie bay.

‘Sea Shepherd UK is offering a £5000 reward for photographic or video evidence which directly leads to the successful prosecution of employees, representatives, contractors or agents of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company (USAN Salmon Fisheries Limited) or ANY companies or individuals for illegally killing Scotland’s iconic seals.

‘To submit information or evidence on the illegal killing of seals by the Scottish Wild Salmon Company or any other company or individuals – please e-mail Sea Shepherd UK’s campaign crew at: report@seashepherduk.org including as many location and time details, clear photographs and/or video as possible.’

Sea Shepherd is also looking for volunteers for this campaign. If interested please email admin@seashepherduk.org

To help Sea Shepherd continue to save lives, please consider making a donation.

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