Consultation on Possible Designation of a Seal Haul-Out Site

Closed 4 Dec 2015

Opened 7 Sep 2015

Results updated 7 Nov 2016

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Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.



The Scottish Government received a proposal that a seal haul-out site located at the mouth of the River Ythan should be considered for designation to protect seals using this site from harassment. This is a relatively new site for grey seals situated in the East Coast of Scotland Management Area. This site was identified as important too late in the original seal haul-out designation process to be included in 2014.

In response Marine Scotland requested SMRU on behalf of NERC to assess the site against the original methodology. They found that the Ythan Estuary satisfies the necessary requirements for designation. The latest surveys confirmed the site holds 26% of grey seals and 1% of harbour seals in the East Coast of Scotland Seal Management Area. 

The site is easily accessible by land and it may be vulnerable to disturbance. The increased number of seals using the site have attracted tourists and the presence of the latter could result in harassment of the seals. In SMRU’s opinion there are therefore grounds for considering this seal haul-out site for designation in advance of the standard 5-yearly review.

Scottish Natural Heritage supports these views.


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Please click here to download the full consultation document

Please read the Guidance on the Offence of Harassment at Seal Haul-Out sites for advice on what activities might constitute hrassment and a useful huide to potential implications


Why your views matter

The purpose of the consultation process is to seek stakeholder views on the proposal for the designation of an additional seal haul-out site in the Ythan Estuary under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, and on the timing of any possible designation.

It is important to point out that this will focus on three issues which are intended to provide a focus for discussion:

1. Whether or not the proposed site should be designated;
2. What potential risks of harassment of seals there are on the proposed site;
3. Whether or not there are sufficient grounds for considering designation before the appropriate period of 5 years and, if so, how quickly this should occur?

What happens next

Marine Scotland will review the responses to this consultation before submitting a recommendation for consideration by Scottish Ministers on whether or not to proceed with this proposal.


  • Business, Industry and Innovation
  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Marine and Fisheries