Cooke Aquaculture Scotland intends to use special nets to ensure all its sites are protected against seal attacks by the end of the year.

All Cooke Scotland sites to be seal-proof by end of 2019

Cooke Aquaculture Scotland plans to install anti-predator netting on all of its sites by the end of the year.

Published Last updated

The Canadian company outlined the £1.5 million plan at the same time as it confirmed a report on the Shetland News website that it had been fined £2,000 by Marine Scotland for failing to report the legal shooting of seals to the licensing authority in the required 48-hour period.

A Cooke Aquaculture Scotland spokesperson said: “An investigation was conducted by Marine Scotland into the incident and we can confirm that a £2,000 fine was issued. The fine was in relation to failing to report the shooting of the seals within the 48-hour window.

£4.6m investment

“We have already invested £3.1 million since 2016 into new anti-predator netting with a further £1.5 million committed this year, and the aim is to have this netting across all of our sites by the end of 2019. We’re pleased that this investment has already shown promising results, as we’ve had no issues with seals on the 140 pens already completed.

“We are committed to continuously improve and monitor measures which help to avoid seal shootings, as we look to reduce the number of seals shot on our farms to zero.”

Cooke, which has 36 active sites in Orkney and Shetland, is using Sapphire Sealpro HDPE nets made by Garware Technical Fibres Ltd in Pune, India and supplied by Kilbirnie firm W&J Knox.

30% reduction

Earlier this month Scottish Sea Farms said a £4.2m investment in the same type of nets was responsible for a 30% reduction in the number of seals it had to shoot to protect stock in 2018, down from 16 in 2017 to 11.

The nets have been installed at 21 of SSF’s 45 farms, with plans for a further nine farms – specifically those facing a seal challenge – to be equipped in 2019 and 2020 at the start of each new crop cycle.

SSF intends to eventually install the netting at all of its 45 farms, as it has seen that once netting has been installed at one farm seals relocate to another farm without protection.

Grieg Seafood Shetland also uses anti-predator netting – either single nets similar to Sealpro or double netting, depending on the site - and did not have to shoot any seals last year.

Read the Shetland News report here.