In 1914 the UK grey seal population was thought to number just 500, and the Grey Seals Protection Act was introduced that year (9). The Sea Mammal Research unit estimated that the British grey seal population numbered 124,300 in the year 2000, representing 40% of the world population (2). The population is increasing, which has led to highly controversial (7) concerns by fishermen that they pose a threat to fish stocks (9). Although protected between 1 September and 31st December by the Conservation of Seals Act (1970), they can still legally be shot during this time if they are damaging fishnets (4), furthermore illegal shooting continues (3). Grey seals are sensitive to disturbance by people and dogs, particularly when lactating. They are also susceptible to oil and chemical pollution and often become tangled up in fishing nets, which may be fatal (3).
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