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Sea Shepherd UK crew continue shadowing Scotland’s seal killers

Our crew have continued to monitor the gunmen of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company (AKA: Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd of Montrose). Every day our crew have watched and followed, ready to intervene against any attempt by them to illegally shoot seals or indeed commit any crime against wildlife. On a typical day our crew has to follow at least one SWSC employee attempting to venture out with a rifle. SWSC employees have attempted a few times our shadowing crew using the terrain to their advantage. On one recent day, two employees of SWSC walked onto West Murkle beach (Dunnet bay, near Thurso) carrying rifle cases and then split up along the coastline with one heading to the West and one heading East - so our campaign crew also split up and followed.

SWSC employed marksman carrying a cased rifle heads east to a rocky bay where seals are regularly seen by the Sea Shepherd crew SWSC employed marksman carrying a cased rifle heads east to a rocky bay where seals are regularly seen by the Sea Shepherd crew
SWSC employed marksman carrying a cased rifle heads east to a rocky bay
where seals are regularly seen by the Sea Shepherd crew

The USAN gunman who headed east walked around a rocky outcrop towards a bay where seals are regularly spotted. When our campaign crew made their way around just after him they found him attempting to hide behind the rocks with his rifle still encased. Our crew stayed with him in order to thwart his attempts to kill any seals.

SWSC employee heading West with rifle case attempting to distract our team from the actual marksman who was heading East along the coastline to a area known to be used by seals.SWSC employee heading West with rifle case attempting to distract our team from the actual marksman who was heading East along the coastline to a area known to be used by seals.The other SWSC employee who headed West is well known to our crew and we believe was attempting to lead us away from the actual gunman who headed East by carrying a gun case which we believe did not contain a rifle (but may have contained an object meant to make it appear that a rifle was in the case). Our crew knows that this particularly employee does not hold a firearms licence – but two of our crew followed him on a circular route until he returned to the SWSC property as a precautionary measure.

Additional Sea Shepherd crew also then spotted a third SWSC employee heading East over a rock outcrop carrying a large monkey wrench and a warning radio call was made to our East crew members to warn them of a potential risk of confrontation as we could not see any valid reason for this employee to be carrying a large wrench around the coastline. After around only ten minutes it was clear to the SWSC employees that they were not going to be out of reach of our cameras or be able to lose our crew around the rocky coastline so they returned towards their base.

SWSC employee spotted carrying a monkey wrench while heading towards our East Sea Shepherd crewSWSC employee spotted carrying a monkey wrench while heading towards our East Sea Shepherd crewOur team returned to the beach and to their vehicles and monitored the coastline and SWSC base until sunset ensuring there were no attempts to illegally shoot seals.

Last Friday after 6pm (which is the deadline for SWSC to remove leader-nets from their fixed engine salmon nets) the Thurso river bailiffs again moved in and seized a SWSC leader net and line before the SWSC employees went out to recovered the few others they had also illegally left in the water. SWSC have been removing all their nets from the water in the Dunnet bay area and on the 18th August 2014 our team confirmed that all main bag and leader nets are out of the water which appears to mean that SWSC have cut short their Salmon netting season which usually continues until at least the 26th August each year. With no active nets in the water (just the fixtures/buoys remain) the SWSC has no further justification to send out marksmen to shoot seals but our team will remain to monitor their activities. No explanation has been made by SWSC as to why they have removed their nets earlier than expected but we have observed similar inexplicable net removals at Gamrie bay and a reduction in the number of salmon nets in the sea south of Montrose earlier in the campaign in June 2014. Sea Shepherd has not interfered with any of legal salmon netting operations this premature net removal remains a mystery, but is a move welcomed all the same by us as Wild Atlantic Salmon numbers are in steep decline.

Apart from watching over West Murkle beach and the adjoining bays, our Scottish Seal Defence campaign team has also been active watching two further companies - a mixed fishery netting station (Salmon and Trout) on the North side of Dunnet bay and they have made visits to Armadale Salmon Fisheries (Bettyhill, Parish of Farr) to watch over the activities of another Wild Salmon Netting company which has been known previously to shoot seals. In addition, our crew are about to engage in new patrols by sea using two vessels in order to investigate less accessible areas where we believe seals may be at risk of being killed.

Watching over the Amandale Wild Salmon netting operationWatching over the Armadale Wild Salmon
netting operation
The Sea Shepherd crew after a long day watching over the seals gave their assistance in order to launch ‘Spitfire’ the 8.5 metre 400hp high speed offshore RIB (which was previously deployed on our seal campaign at both Gamrie Bay and down around Lunan Bay) at a hidden yet beautifully maintained slipway at Dwarwick to the North East of Thurso. With the help of the seal campaign crew Spitfire was launched at 20:30hrs just before high tide and soon after Jessie Treverton and Robert Read were on their way on a daring 232 nautical mile journey across the open ocean during the night to the Faroe Islands to deliver Spitfire to the Sea Shepherd Global Campaign ‘Operation GrindStop 2014’. After a long 19 hour challenging journey through a strong northerly force 6 the vessel and crew arrived safely in Torshavn. After clearing Faroese Customs and encountering a rather astonished (and very annoyed harbourmaster) Spitfire is now on patrol duty defending Pilot Whales and Dolphins alongside the vessels Brigitte Bardot, Thor, Loki, Mike Galesi, B S Sheen, Columbus and Pegasus with over 90 boat and shore crew from around the world.

The 400hp RIB ‘Spitfire’ now on patrol in the Faroe Islands on Operation GrindStop 2014 following the successful 232nm overnight crossing from the North coast of ScotlandThe 400hp RIB ‘Spitfire’ now on patrol in the Faroe Islands on Operation GrindStop 2014 following the successful 232nm overnight crossing from the North coast of Scotland

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