The presence of at least one seal in the main river since the beginning of the year continues to disrupt fishing interests and cause damage to fish stocks.  Probably the same Grey seal travelled up as far as Rutherford at one point this year and was also seen on the Till as far as Twizel.  Since 2021, no licences have been issued in Scotland for the lethal removal of seals that are causing economic damage to a fishery or fish farm. 

A grey seal in Berwick harbour

Fishery officers are therefore very limited in the actions they can take to encourage the seal out of the river. Scottish Government have provided an acoustic deterrent which is deployed near the seal, but this has had no detectable effect on the behaviour of the seal, with around 100 hours of fishery officer time devoted to its deployment.

The impact of a resident seal on our weak Spring salmon stocks is unknown as it is very difficult to quantify the size and species of fish that they are eating.  For example, we don’t know whether they feed on smolts as they migrate down the river or feed exclusively on adult fish.

With the three other main east coast rivers experiencing the same problem, particularly this year, we have raised the issue of in-river seal predation with the Scottish cabinet secretary.


Photographs and Stories

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Anne Woodcock


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