In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the grey seal breeds in large colonies at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland, where there are >6,000 animals, Orkney and North Rona learn more off northern Scotland, Lambay Island off Dublin and Ramsey Island off Pembrokeshire. Most recently (2013), the Zoological Society of London carried out, by air, land and sea, the first ever count of seals in the Thames Estuary and were astounded to record >700 individuals made up of 200 grey and 500 harbour seals. The society’s conservation scientist, Joanna Barker, said, however, that ‘Recently, we have seen drastic declines
in numbers of harbour seals across Scotland, with populations almost disappearing in some areas.’ Which is strange because on 20 September 2006, The Times reported that about 90% of British grey seals lived in Scottish waters and, at ∼120,000 individuals, accounted for 40% of the world total. As noted above too, elsewhere, numbers are increasing. The same Times article, however, pointed out that anyone with an endorsement on their firearm’s certificate can, between 1 June and 31 August and 1 September to 31 December, Venetoclax shoot harbour and grey seals, respectively. And it seems fishermen have been doing just that,
notably cage fish farmers. In The Times of 3 December 2012, it was revealed that >300 seals have been shot by some or all of eight government-licensed fish-farming companies since 1 January 2011 and that Scottish ministers had been trying to keep this secret. Today, such numbers have to be reported. Of course, such Scottish numbers pale in contrast with the fact that, according to the European Commission, about one million seals are hunted commercially around the world each year. Significant sealing countries are Canada, Norway, Greenland, Iceland and Namibia in possibly and approximately that order of importance
as quotas change. Until recently, Russia was also a commercial Ergoloid sealing nation, euphemistically harvesting in harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and hooded (Cystophora cristata) seals in the Greenland and White Seas. In January 2000, a bill to ban seal hunting was passed in the Russian Parliament by 273 votes to 1, but was vetoed by President Vladimir Putin. On 13 March 2008, however, The Times reported that the quota of 35,000 seal pups to be killed in the White Sea had been cancelled and, subsequently and famously, President Putin cancelled the cull. Not just this, but on 18 March 2009, following the earlier local, international and (typically alzheimic) celebrity-fuelled outcry, against the cull, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Yuriy Trutnev, announced a complete ban on the culling of new-born (‘whitecoat’) seals thereby saving >35,000 harp seal pups in the White Sea alone each year.