Fisheries officials will allow the hunting and killing of 975,000 harp seals in Atlantic Canada over the next three years, Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault said on Monday.

No more than 350,000 will be allowed to be killed within any single year under the governments new management plan for the controversial hunt but that is about 50,000 more than were allowed in the 2001-2002 season.

'Seal management is founded on sound conservation principles to ensure harvest opportunities now and in the future,' Mr. Thibault said in a statement. 'Seals are a valuable natural resource that, when harvested sustainably, provide valuable income to about 12,000 Canadian sealers and their families.'

Mr. Thibault said was developed after consulting both sealers as well as environmentalists and seal-hunt opponents.

The population of harp seals the main species hunted commercially is healthy, officials say, with an estimated 5.2 million animals currently in East Coast waters, up from 1.8 million in 1970.

Under the new plan, the government says, the herds population will stay above 3.85 million, or 70 per cent of the 'maximum observed size' of the herd, which it says is 5.5 million.

And the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates that the herd will still have 4.7 million seals by 2006. In the second year of the three-year plan, officials plan a detailed population survey.

The hunt has long been a focus of protests by environmentalists and animal-rights activists, especially around the issue of hunting seal pups a practice banned in Canada in 1986.

In a statement released on Monday, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a California-based group opposed to the hunt, said that Greenpeace co-founder and anti-seal-hunt campaigner Paul Watson will be leading a delegation of supporters and celebrities to the region to 'intervene and bring global awareness to this inhumane waste of life.'

Mr. Thibault said the Fisheries Department will continue to monitor the hunt closely for any abuses. Environmental and animal-protection groups criticized Ottawa last spring when officials extended the seal hunt and allowed hunters to go over the stated 275,000 quota to take approximately 295,000 seals. Ottawa said the population was so strong that there was no conservation risk.

Under the plans announced on Monday, sealers will also be able to kill about 10,000 hooded seals, but there will be a continued ban on hunting them in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

Small catches of grey seals will be allowed, but not in the Sable Island area. There will be no quotas for ringed, harbour or bearded seals, but hunting will be controlled by permits and licences. And the hunting of blueback seals will not be allowed at all.

The government also said it will study the idea of 'seal exclusion zones' around cod-spawning areas to help devastated fish stocks recover.


Quotas this high have not been seen since the 19th century and the government is not providing any credible scientific justification for the slaughter.

The seals are being slaughtered as scapegoats for the lack of fisheries management by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said Captain Paul Watson. There is no scientific justification to blame harp seals for the destruction of the cod. In fact, the reverse is true. Harp seals prey upon the fish that predate upon young cod. The fact is that more seals translate into more cod. DFO now intends to destroy both the seals and the cod, this type of management does not make sense.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society intends to work with celebrities and other organizations like the Fund for Animals, PETA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare to rebuild a worldwide protest movement to bring attention to this bloody obscenity.

According to Captain Watson, the campaign to protect the seals has just been revitalized by the cruel audacity of the Canadian government.

The Canadian government is about to display a complete and utter contempt for fisheries conservation management, and for humane and animal rights. We need to retaliate. We must retaliate, and we will retaliate. Were talking boycotts of Canadian products, boycotts of tourism. Were talking protests in the streets, and disruption of the hunt on the ice. I have had hundreds of people contact me and say they are willing to risk arrest to interfere with this slaughter.

As a Canadian, as a Maritimer, I swear that I will not rest until this horrendous barbaric ritual is ended once and for all.

Captain Paul Watsons book [25]Seal Wars Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lineswith the Harp Seals was recently published in Canada and is due for publication in the United States this spring.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been fighting the seal hunt since 1979. Prior to that, Captain Watson led two seal campaigns in 1976 and again in 1977, for the Greenpeace Foundation.


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cosmosgazer avatar
4 years ago #2
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Why can't the seals be caught humanely? Is beating a seal over the head until its a bloody pulp the ONLY way to kill it? Last time I checked, harp seals were not immune to a bolt gun.

As for waste, that depends on what the seal carcasses are being used for. I could forsee that seal meat, if properly frozen and stored correctly, could be an excellent source of protein for zoo animals. (What, do you think because lions and tigers and bears, oh my, are placed in exhibit, they become vegetarians?) Why should an endangered tiger be put down because a zoo can't afford to feed it while harp seals breed out of control? Aren't all species equal in the balance of Nature?

As for feeding on the predators of cod, correct me if I'm wrong (and you can provide the URL), but harp seals are basically the raccoons of the North Altantic. They'll eat anything they can catch and fit in their mouth. Sure, they get cod predators, but they also get cod. Keeping harp seal numbers in check will make sure the fisherman keep BOTH predator and prey in balance.

I don't see the problem here.

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luckynate avatar
4 years ago #3
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This (below) is a tragedy. I was in the Magdallen Islands a fews years ago and got into the seal situation there. The fishermen had depleted the cod stocks, causing a moratorium on cod fishing. Naturally the fishermen, and the Canadian government, blamed the seals, instead of the real culprit: Homo sapiens (wise? man). Allowing more seals to be killed not only allevaietd the pressure on the cod stocks (the givernment's position, not mine), but it also put some of the idled fishermen back to work

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VeronikaLous avatar
4 years ago #4
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Apparantly some eastern Canadian seal hunters eat flipper pie. I don't know if they eat the rest as well.

Good idea to not waste the meat if the seals are killed.

Problem is, that governments sometimes base culls on political pressures rathere than measured data. Allowing a seal hunt might be valid, or it might be political caving to corporations. Hard to say.

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