Nature Champions: Harbour Seal

Two harbour seals sitting on a rock. The seals are facing each other and one seal has its flipper raised.

One of two UK seal species, Harbour seals give birth in June and July and moult in August. They feed on a variety of species including sandeels, herring, octopus and squid up to 50km from their haul-out site. 30% of European harbour seals are found in the UK, but this is a decline from approximately 40% in 2002. They are widely distributed on the west coast and concentrated in the major estuaries on the east coast.

Action Needed

1. Support regular monitoring in areas of worst decline to understand the level of impact
2. Press for precautionary management in all decision making, especially in areas where populations continue to decline
3. Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented


A number of threats combine to mean that Harbour seals are declining in Scottish waters, which makes them challenging to deal with. Great care is needed not to increase pressures on those populations that are declining, to give them the best chance of recovery.

MSP Nature Champion

Gillian Mackay

Member for: Central Scotland

Region: Central Scotland

Party: Scottish Green Party

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