Additional Protection



In 1925 the National Trust purchased the Farne Islands, off the Northumbrian coast, which had been an unofficial nature reserve since the late 19th century and where grey seal breeding populations were established.

Further parliamentary protection in 1932 extended the close season, and gave year-round protection to seals resident on Haskeir in Outer Hebrides. This Act also gave government the power to suspend protection at a site or to alter close season dates.

This protection, plus other factors, has seen British grey seal population increase by around 6% per annum in modern era:

In the mid-1930s the population was estimated at 9,000

By the mid-1960s it had increased to approximately 34,000

In 2000 the SMRU figures indicated a population of 124,300

Today, there may be up to 150,000

Around 40% of the world population now breeds in Britain, giving the UK government international responsibility for the species. About 90% of the British population breeds in Scotland.