The Canadian seal hunt
2012 - The Canadian commercial seal "hunt" is the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. Canada intends to kill over 325,000 seals this spring with an additional 10,000 harp seal quota for an aboriginal allowance!
During the 3-year period of 2003-2005, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) allowed a kill quota of 975,000 baby and adult harp seals and 30,000 adult hood seals.
In 2004, 365,971 seals were slaughtered, and during the 2003 season 283,497 harp seals were killed. In 2002, the sealers slaughtered over 312,000 although the kill quota was set at 275,000. There were no legal consequences for the quota overkill. Instead, the Canadian government rewarded the kill quota violations with an incredible increase of 75,000 seals!
There is no scientific justification for these quotas as the seal counting techniques used amount to little more than guesswork. Further, Canadian author and naturalist (and Sea Shepherd International Chairman), Farley Mowat, estimates that for every seal landed, another is shot and lost under the ice, not to be included in the count. According to the Canadian government, the hunt will not harm seal populations, however, the facts dispute their unfounded claim. When the first European explorers landed on the East coast of Canada, there were an estimated 30 million harp, hood, and gray seals (harp seals made-up 80%, or 24M, of that number). Because of the reckless management of the hunt in the past, Canada allowed the number of harp seals to drop to 1.8 million in the early 1970s. Now they claim that a "healthy" population of 5.2 million exists but in the same breath admit that they have not had a peer-reviewed population survey since 1999. They predict that the anticipated survey's population number will be lower than their current claim, and further, their "management" plan still allows for the numbers to drop far below the 1970s level.
Scientists and environmentalists dispute the Canadian government's population claims, and believe the hunt is a threat to the survival of the species. In the last four years alone, over a million harp seals have been killed. While the world waits for a new population survey, seals are wantonly slaughtered.
Clearly, the government of Canada is willing to sacrifice everything (from their national reputation, to the wrath of the taxpayers, to economic hardship from boycotts) to continue their seal hunt which is nothing more than a make-work project for out-of-work fishermen.
After decades of this mismanagement and the resulting collapse of the East coast cod industry, the Canadian DFO has declared war on the seals in hopes that massive seal kills will bring back the cod and keep their disgruntled fishermen working. In fact, cod is not a major food source of the harp and hood seal diet. Further, recent evidence suggests that killing seals contributes to bacterial infestation on the ocean floor which leads to hypoxia, a condition in which patches of ocean lose all the dissolved oxygen and are unable to sustain cod or fish or marine life of any kind. However, these facts seem to have been brushed aside by the DFO in their efforts to justify and continue the slaughter.
The Canadian government looks for as many avenues as possible to profit from their annual, government-subsidized slaughter. Currently, Canada exports the following seal products: sealskins (furskins/pelts and leather), seal oil, and seal meat. Unfortunately, due to a revived fashion trend, the demand for seal pelts has sky-rocketed, especially in Europe. Harpseals.org reports that high fashion designers such as Prada and Dolce & Gabbana are selling sealskin apparel. Other companies selling seal fur products include Odette Leblanc Collection, Petit Nordand, and Pajar. Canada sold pelts to 11 countries in 2004 with Norway, Germany, Greenland, and China purchasing the largest quantities. Other buying countries were Finland, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Greece, South Korea, and Russia.
The above text is part of an article published by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. To read the entire article, please click HERE!
Senator Mac Harb introduces a Bill to end the commercial seal hunt
On May 2nd, 2012, Canadian Senator Mac Harb formally re-introduced a legislation to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada.
Despite decades of support from the Canadian government, the market outlook for seal products remains bleak. The European Union market is closed to non-Inuit seal products; Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have banned the import of harp seal pelts, shutting off 90% of Canada’s exports; the Chinese seal-meat deal has not been finalized; and even $3.6 million in bailout money from the Newfoundland government has failed to draw large numbers of sealers to the hunt so far this year.
The writing is on the wall – the world does not want, nor need, products made from Canada’s dead seals.
The end of the commercial sealing industry is in sight. It is time for the Canadian government to face the reality that commercial sealing is neither viable nor necessary in this day and age, and there are no indications that it will become so in the future.
Instead of propping up this dying industry with bailouts and other financial assistance, any government support provided to the sealing industry should be in the form of a restructuring and transition plan to end commercial sealing and compensate affected individuals.
Mac Harb has introduced a historic bill to end Canada's annual commercial slaughter of baby seals. This piece of legislation acknowledges that there are no markets for seal pelts now that Russia - which had been importing 95 percent of Canadian seal fur - has joined the U.S., the European Union, Mexico, and others in banning seal fur imports.
Despite a lack of markets, the Canadian government continues to support the slaughter because both liberals and conservatives want to control the swing seats in the region where the slaughter takes place. Sen. Harb's bill calls for the government to end the slaughter and transition Canadians in sealing regions into sustainable economic programs.
We're nearing the end of the seal slaughter, but we need your voice now to reach a tipping point.
Please take action now
and contact members of the Senate of Canada, asking them to support
Senator Harb’s bill to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada.
Please sign HERE! and HERE!
70,000 harp seals killed this year, Newfoundland government says
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries minister says 70,000 harp seals have been killed during this year's commercial seal hunt — nearly twice the number that was killed last year.
Darin King told the provincial legislature that 680 sealers took part in this year's hunt, which had a total allowable catch of 400,000.
About 38,000 harp seals were killed last year.
King says he believes the higher catch level reflects an opening of markets in Asia, an argument animal rights groups contest.
Earlier this year, the provincial government announced a $3.6 million loan to Carino Processing Ltd., a seal products company, in an effort to kick-start the hunt.
The funds went to Carino Processing to buy seal pelts and blubber.