‘Seal-field safety zone’

ABERDOUR;'Seals being released by SSPCA'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
ABERDOUR;'Seals being released by SSPCA'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

An area of Kirkcaldy coastline has been marked out as a potential safety zone for seals.

Seafield is home to many grey and common seals and now the Scottish Government has launched a consultation on seal ‘haul-out’ sites to consider the number of sites, their designation and levels of protection.

Haul-out sites are the areas where seal populations rest and sleep. Some are also used for rearing pups.

The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 specifies that seal sites considered suitable to protect seals from harassment should be designated through an order in the Scottish Parliament.

Protection

Now, Marine Scotland in conjunction with The Sea Mammal Research Unit has identified 146 sites around Scotland that it proposes to designate, in order to give common seal and grey seal populations additional protection, including one at at Seafield.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “Scotland’s seals form a unique part of our marine habitats and the Scottish Government has a responsibility to give them appropriate protection.

“That’s why we intend to designate haul-out sites, the essential areas where seal populations need to be safeguarded from harassment.”

Seal safety

However, Stewart Bonar, Countryside Ranger for Fife Council told the Press: “To be honest it probably won’t make any difference to Kirkcaldy.

“As long as there is water between the seals and the public, which there always is at Seafield, then there’s not a problem.

“The seals are used to people because the coastal path goes right past them.

‘‘I’ve taken groups of noisy school children along there and the seals are fine. The only time an issue can occur is when, people allow their dogs to go into the water and they bark at them. Then the seals can get distressed.

“Rearing pups isn’t a real issue here either as the seals don’t breed as a rule. One year a grey seal gave birth but that was unusual.

“This proposal will suit places like Tentsmuir more where the seals haul up on to the beach. That’s when there could be problems.”

The consultation will run until June 21.