This article was originally written and published by Sea Shepherd UK
Scottish Wild Salmon Company (SWSC) Statement By George Pullar (Director):
'In response to reported concerns, please be assured that we are going about our lawful business, fully complying with all seal licence conditions, firearms legislation and the heritable titles we have to fish for salmon.”
Sea Shepherd UK (SSUK) Replies: This is contrary to reports from last year in the Banffshire Journal:
SWSC: This, despite considerable provocation from Sea Shepherd and their associates, who are known for their extreme and often illegal actions.
SSUK reply: This is completely libellous. We challenge the Scottish Wild Salmon Company to provide evidence of a single illegal action by Sea Shepherd UK at any time past or present.
Indeed, Police Scotland have made VERY clear to SWSC that Sea Shepherd are willingly working with all Police authorities and that our current activities in Gardenstown and Crovie are completely within the law.
SWSC: Our staff are being constantly stalked and harassed by group members.
SSUK: And yet it was a SWSC employee who was charged by Police Scotland under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 for the offence of Threatening and Abusive Behaviour. This entire incident has been captured on video which is now in the possession not only of Police Scotland but also now a national media outlet who are preparing the story for publication. The video is accompanied by additional high quality photographs taken at the time clearly showing 3 SWSC employees, one with a rifle slung over his shoulder threatening and abusing a single Sea Shepherd volunteer whose only defence was his video camera.
SWSC: We have met with both Police Scotland and Sea Shepherd representatives, in an attempt to resolve matters.
SSUK: We were invited by Police Scotland to a meeting with them plus SWSC. Police Scotland said that SWSC had made it a condition of the meeting that no video or voice recordings were made. SSUK told Police Scotland that we had no objections whatsoever to any other party making recordings as we had nothing to hide. This offer was repeated several times to Police Scotland but our offer of full transparency was not reciprocated by SWSC.
SWSC: Sea Shepherd have made it clear that they consider themselves as under a ‘higher law’
SSUK: We cited the UN World Charter for Nature, the Berne Convention, The Scotland Act, the Marine Scotland (2010) Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Animal Welfare Act and a number of other pieces of legislation relating to the discussion with Police Scotland and SWSC. We also discussed in detail the specific legal aspects of Seal Licensing under the Marine Scotland (2010) Act.
We do not consider that a “higher law,” we consider that THE law. The law which we had hoped SWSC would be as willing to commit to as we are.
SWSC: …despite clear warnings from the police, that we are not to be impeded from carrying out our lawful business and that Scottish Law applies here.
SSUK: There was no “clear warning” element to this part of our discussion. Police Scotland did tell both parties that neither should be impeded from carrying out their lawful business. We agreed to this, SWSC did not.
SSUK neither agree with nor approve of salmon netting but we acknowledge that it is still lawful and that SWSC are legally entitled to carry on this business. Unlike seals, salmon are not a protected species.
SSUK and all right-minded individuals consider that SWSC’s seal slaughter is illegal under all of the items of legislation noted above. That is what we have come to Gardenstown to prevent and it is worth noting that Police Scotland have told SWSC that in their opinion we are perfectly legally entitled to act as we are doing in Gardenstown and Crovie.
SWSC: Furthermore, they have been informed by Police Scotland, that they must only protest peacefully.
SSUK: Police Scotland advised both SSUK and SWSC that under the law SSUK were entitled to peaceful protest, that such peaceful protest included ALL actions which SWSC were complaining about and that Police Scotland would NOT prevent us from carrying out these peaceful protest actions.
The meeting ended with SWSC employees in heated argument with Police Scotland over matters of law which SWSC were unwilling to accept.
SWSC: Yet their aggression and threatening manner continues on a daily basis.
SSUK: The harbour area is fully covered by CCTV. If SWSC have noted ANY aggression or threats from ANY member of SSUK then we insist that they report it formally to Police Scotland for investigation. We have nothing to hide. We are not guilty as alleged.
SWSC: Today, 22 April, on arrival at the pier, our law abiding staff were faced by a large group of activists, wearing face masks, knuckledusters and combat gear. Clearly, the intent was to intimidate - surely such extremism has no place in modern Scotland.
SSUK: Whilst noting that no single member of SSUK was present at the pier at this time (we were giving statements to Police Scotland to enable the SWSC employee to be charged whilst this was allegedly happening) we have discussed this matter fully with our liaison officer at Police Scotland and this statement from George Pullar has been exaggerated so far beyond a true statement of facts it is laughable.
Whilst SWSC claim to have been intimidated, local Community Councillor Mr Ronnie Beattie, a man in his 70s, was engaging in pleasant conversation with this group of visitors to Gardenstown. Unless Mr Beattie is also to be considered an extremist with no place in a modern Scotland we have no idea what Mr Pullar is going on about.
SSUK have recorded a video interview with Mr Beattie who describes the full incident start to finish and has given us permission to use that video in any way we wish as long as it is provided unedited. If SWSC dare to make a formal complaint to Police Scotland we will happily forward that video to Police Scotland to add to their growing file on SWSC.
SWSC: The police have been advised.
SSUK: We advised them too.
SWSC: Unfortunately, Sea Shepherd have chosen to sensationalise and misrepresent the issue for their own ends.
SSUK: The issue is SWSC shoot seals. SSUK stop people shooting seals. I don’t see any misrepresentation there. We do it for the seals, not for SSUK.
With regards to documented evidence of misrepresentation we suggest SWSC stand by for a media expose featuring the video of them threatening and abusing a SSUK volunteer, an incident which resulted in the formal criminal charge of a SWSC employee.
SWSC: To be clear, we deploy Acoustic Deterrent Devices wherever possible and have done so at Gardenstown. We have invested considerable resources in strengthening our fishing gear to further deter seal attack and are currently in discussions with Scottish Government to determine what additional non lethal measures can be deployed to avoid the need for lethal control
SSUK: We sang SWSC’s praises for their investment in ADDs and their contribution to proving conclusively that these devices work.
SWSC: - lethal methods are very much a last resort.
SSUK: Now that SWSC have admitted to Police Scotland that the ADDs work (with the exception of deaf seals according to George Pullar) shooting is clearly beyond a last resort. ADDs are now without a doubt the very successful last resort which completely negates the need for lethal force against defenceless seals. We do acknowledge that bullets are cheaper than doing the job properly but the LAW is the LAW. SSUK obeys the law. We call on SWSC to unequivocally commit to the same.
SWSC made this statement with regard to ADDs in front of a Police Scotland Sergeant, 2 Constables, a Director of SSUK and the COO of SSUK. They stated that the reason they continued to use bullets to kill was because the ADDs are “too expensive” for their business model. Surely such murderous avarice has no place in a modern Scotland?
SWSC: To that end, in order to reduce tensions we will remove all firearms from our operation and will continue dialogue with Scottish Government involving the Sea Mammal Research Unit, to garner support and direct assistance to further expand non lethal measures.
SSUK: Thank you. It is a start. But remember last year you promised that you wouldn’t be shooting seals and then whilst basking in the glow of wonderful, warm PR you did exactly that? http://www.banffshire-journal.co.uk/News/Betrayed-over-seal-shootings-09042013.htm
SWSC: Please also be aware that we are mindful of our very strong legal rights and will defend these to the fullest extent of the law.
SSUK: As are SSUK and as we have already done so, resulting in a SWSC employee being charged with a criminal offence.
SWSC: Given the ongoing significant and unwarranted harassment and misrepresentation we are suffering, through online media, email and face to face, giving rise to the potential of legal action, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further'.
SSUK: If we have been libellous in any way, challenge us to retract any specific allegation which you dispute with evidence of why your challenge should be sustained. If we agree, we will apologise and retract immediately.
However, we do not expect to be making any apologies. You murder seals. We save them.
Until you relinquish your licence we will continue to act in full accordance with all legislation and in full and open dialogue with Police Scotland and any other official agencies to ensure that you do not restart your way beyond last resort (and therefore illegal) seal slaughter.
We will allow any Police Wildlife, Firearms or any other Officer to accompany us 24/7/365.
We will allow any journalist to accompany us 24/7/365.
We will do everything in our power to lawfully prevent the Scottish Wild Salmon Company shooting seals 24/7/365
We will do everything in our power to lawfully prevent the Scottish Wild Salmon Company shooting seals at every site for which they currently hold licences to do so. We are committed to this action because we now have the evidence provided by SWSC themselves that they are capable of deploying non-lethal alternatives to shooting. As such it would be legally impossible for them to shoot any seal in compliance with any licence which they currently hold.
If we see any of your operatives deploy with a weapon or suspect that a weapon is being carried on board one of your vessels, we will conduct ourselves completely within the law but we will conduct ourselves in a manner which will not allow you to use that weapon to kill seals.
With this information now public we call on the Scottish Wild Salmon Company to rebrand as a Seal Friendly supplier, return their licences to Marine Scotland and insist with us that Marine Scotland require all Salmon producers to deploy ADDs now that their effectiveness has been proven beyond the doubt of the one company with the single biggest vested interest in their success.
To all other companies in this industry, SSUK will not be backing down on this issue. If you currently shoot seals, expect to see us very soon. We have the law on our side.
To assist with this campaign, Sea Shepherd UK is offering £5000 for photos and video evidence which leads to the successful prosecution of Scottish Wild Salmon Company employees for illegally killing seals.
Sea Shepherd UK is also offering £100 for new images (taken after 23rd April 2014) of Scottish seals being shot by Scottish Wild Salmon Company employees, their representatives or agents.