I know from the large number of e-mails and letters I have received that there is real public concern about this issue. Indeed, over 170,000 people have signed a related petition calling for an outright ban on seal culling in UK waters.
I support high animal welfare standards and believe we need to ensure that all animals are treated with care and compassion. It is also vital that we protect and preserve our wildlife and marine environment. The previous Labour Government had a strong record in this area and I hope the current Government build on this.
As I am sure you are aware, there are a number of licensing restrictions concerning the killing of seals in UK waters. These are intended to ensure that fish populations are protected and the UK fishing industry has a secure future while also maintaining seal numbers and respecting animal welfare concerns.
I strongly support the UK fishing industry and I would not want to see changes to licensing rules that affect this.
I appreciate, however, that there are concerns around the enforcement of current licensing laws and reporting requirements. I also believe that the shooting of seals should be a last resort and I would like to see other methods used where possible.
I hope, therefore, that the UK and Scottish Governments listen and respond to these important concerns and ensure that the current licensing regime strikes the right balance.
I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and bear in mind the points you raise if and when this is debated in Parliament.
Vernon's position on Stopping UK Seal Slaughter
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