05
Feb
13

Latest on SNH clam trap fiasco

snh_logoThe SNH clam trap fiasco continues. First, here’s a quick re-cap on their controversial decision to authorise the use of clam-type traps in the 2013 Open General Licences:

In October 2012, SNH announced that they would undertake a public consultation about the use of clam-type traps in Scotland (see here).

In early December 2012, following the public consultation, SNH announced that they would allow the use of clam-type traps on the Open General Licences beginning 1st January 2013 (see here). We questioned whether SNH had favoured the views of game-shooting lobby and ignored the views of the conservationists, and we asked to see the full set of consultation responses.

In mid-December 2012, SNH’s decision to authorise the use of clam traps led to several parliamentary questions. The questions can be read here, and the Environment Minister’s responses can be read here. The responses suggested that the Scottish Government didn’t see anything wrong with the decision to authorise clam-type trap use.

Meanwhile, also in mid-December 2012, at least two organisations (SSPCA and RSPB) asked SNH to reconsider their decision to approve the use of clam-type traps (see here).

In late December 2012, we blogged about how to recognise a clam trap being used lawfully and one being used unlawfully (see here).

In late December, SNH released the full set of consultation responses for scrutiny. In early January, we blogged about our analysis of these responses and concluded that SNH had not been truthful when they’d said that the “majority of consultees supported the proposed amendments” and that their decision to authorise the use of clam traps was based on “the feedback received“. In fact, our analysis showed that more than twice as many respondents were against the use of clam traps prior to independent testing than those who were supportive of their use! (see here). We encouraged people to contact SNH Chief Executive Ian Jardine to ask for an explanation.

So, the latest update is that SNH have now responded. The following generic letter was sent out in mid-January by one of Ian Jardine’s underlings, Nick Halfhide, Head of Operations:

I am sorry that you disagree with the decision that we have taken to include clam-type traps in the 2013 General Licences. We are aware of the potential risks to non-target species from these, as with other licensed traps, but at the same time we recognise the legitimate needs of the land management community to control certain bird species.

In balancing the needs of land managers and the risk to non-target species, we sought to gather evidence through the recent public consultation to inform our decision making. This produced much valid opinion but little solid evidence. We therefore formed the view that as these traps are already in use, and have been for some time, it would be disproportionate to ban their use outright.

Instead, we decided to take steps to minimise the risk to non-target species by placing a special condition that eggs or bread are the only permitted baits for use with Larsen mate and Larsen pod traps. In addition we intend to further test these traps this year which will be both rigorous and independent. If evidence does come to light that they pose unacceptable risks then any General Licence permitting their use could be revoked at any time.

I also understand your concerns over the potential misuse of all traps permitted under General Licences and this is something that we take very seriously. These issues are of course not new and we are aware of the recent misuse of traps to target birds of prey and this is something we are very keen to address.

We believe that one important step will be to develop a Code of Practice with the industry and key stakeholders – this document would provide clarity on design and use of traps to ensure that there is a clear understanding and agreement as to when and how they can be used. This should help to maximise their effectiveness in addressing the legitimate needs of users whilst minimising risk in relation to animal welfare, conservation and potential for misuse. We aim to take this forward early this year.

Finally, in relation to views received during the formal consultation last year, I agree that the majority of respondents did not favour the use of clam traps but were in favour of clarifying which traps could be used under General Licence. The commentary on this point in paragraph 2 of section 5 of Annex 1 in the letter to consultees dated 4 December 2012 is ambiguous and thus confusing, for which I apologise.

Yours sincerely

Nick Halfhide

Head of Operations”

Having considered this response for a few weeks, we have now decided on the next course of action. We think the SNH response is unsatisfactory in that it still does not address the fundamental problem behind their decision to authorise the use of clam-type traps; that is, SNH’s decision not to carry out independent testing prior to authorising clam trap use. A further blog entry will explain what we can do about it….


6 Responses to “Latest on SNH clam trap fiasco”


  1. 1 lawrie
    February 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Eggs and Bread! Of course that will be stuck to by the ” land management community” – and who and what will be independent and rigorous, a survey sent out to gamekeepers analysed independently and rigorously – we’ve seen that before….

  2. 2 Merlin
    February 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Well a code of conduct is going to make a huge difference to those who already blatently flout the law, just more time wasting nonsense from a government quango bending over to appease. little better than ivory poachers The lot of them

  3. 3 Chris Roberts
    February 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    No wonder there are so many criminals in the “land management commumity” there are no adequate laws or law inforcement to deter them.

  4. February 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    SNH agree that these clam traps are indiscriminate and may trap non-target species, which will of course include legally protected birds and even mammals such as Pine Martens. Add this to all the other indiscriminate trapping methods legal in Scotland such as the crow cage trap, Larson trap and wire snare and what SNH have done by permitting yet another trap into the countryside is to add to the already high number of non-target species that are being trapped. Based on evidence collected by onekind, adding yet another trapping device to the hills and fields of Scotland will almost certainly mean that there will be an increase in animal suffering. Disturbing material, gathered by ourselves, shows that animals, target and non-target species alike, do suffer and do indeed die in these traps and adding another trap to the keeper’s arsenal will just increase this suffering.

    SNH have suggested that to avoid raptors being caught in these clam traps (again, evidence collected by onekind shows that this is the case) then only bread and eggs must be used as bait. OK, so with overwhelming evidence of raptors also being caught in crow cage traps, can SNH now change the license to only permit eggs and bread crumbs to be used in these crow cage traps? If they cannot then why not?


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