For the past couple of years, BDMLR has been working via the Seal Alliance coalition of groups to push for legislation protecting seals from disturbance. At present cetaceans are protected under Schedule 5 the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from such acts, yet seals are not despite them being far more vulnerable as a semi-land based animal.
Over this time the Seal Alliance groups have provided volumes of evidence demonstrating the chronically high levels of human activity causing disturbance to seals due to getting too close, being too noisy or through direct interference such as mishandling, anti social behaviour and dog attacks. In light of this evidence coming from groups around the country, the Alliance managed to help secure a first debate in the House of Commons back in February 2022, brought by Tracey Crouch MP.
Since then the evidence has also been used by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to recommend seals be added to Schedule 5 of the WCA as part of their quinquennial review, the outcome of which appears to be delayed. With no recent news, Alliance members have pushed for and succeeded in gaining a second Commons debate on the issue, which took place on Tuesday 27th June 2023 and was led by Sarah Olney MP. The debate was supported by MPs from Kent, North Wales and Cornwall.
This has been a huge effort on the part of many people in the Seal Alliance work with Tracey, Sarah and others to get this important piece of legislation back on the political agenda, and we will now push for further actions behind the scenes to keep up the momentum once again. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this latest debate, in particular Mary Tester of Thames Seal Group and Sue Sayer MBE of the Seal Research Trust!
The full transcript of the debate can be found on this link.
Photos: Linda Pearce and Mary Tester.