CANADIAN GOVERNMENT OPENS SEAL SLAUGHTER WEEKS EARLY, PUPS LIKELY STILL NURSING
29th March 2017
The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans yesterday opened the commercial seal slaughter in Newfoundland two weeks early, even though there are mother seals that are likely still nursing their pups. Sealing areas are closed to hunting on March 15th by the Canadian government "to allow time for seal whelping and nursing." Usually, the Newfoundland commercial seal hunt reopens in mid-April, after the pups have been weaned.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International (HSI)/Canada said, "This is outrageous. Harp seals give birth over several weeks and there are almost certainly mother seals still nursing their pups on the ice floes off of Newfoundland. Adult harp seals are apparently being targeted, male and female harps are indistinguishable from a distance, and nursing mothers often swim away from their pups. Thus, nursing mothers could be killed and their unweaned pups left to starve. The noise of multiple sealing vessels smashing through the ice, gunfire and wounded seals will further disrupt the nursery. The closure of the commercial seal hunt during the birthing and nursing period is one of the only protections for seals in Canada. It is shameful to see the Federal Government discard even this minimal measure to appease commercial sealers."
Ms Aldworth has led the campaign against the commercial seal slaughter for the past 18 years, traveling to the ice to bear witness to the cruelty first hand.
Phocalux, one of the only remaining seal processors in Canada, has been the recipient of over a million dollars in government handouts in recent years. The company demanded last week that the hunt be opened early this year, so that sealers could slaughter thousands of adult seals.
HSI Australia has consistently called on the Australian Government to prohibit the import of seal products from commercial hunts into Australia.
Nicola Beynon, HSI Australia Head of Campaigns said, “So far more than 36 countries have banned trade in commercial seal products for animal welfare and conservation reasons, however Australia still hasn’t followed suit. It’s time our Government spoke out on the issue and joined the rest of the world’s lead in making a statement against this cruel and barbaric practice.”
Because fur is the most valuable seal product, and the skins of very young seals fetch the highest prices, more than 98 percent of the seals killed in the commercial seal hunt are pups less than three months old. In past years, adults have occasionally been targeted by commercial sealers when government subsidies have been provided for seal meat. Ken Jones, a senior fisheries management officer, testified about the seal meat subsidies in the House of Commons in 2006, stating that, "We were propping up markets that didn't exist. Meat did end up being destroyed."
- With more than 2 million seals killed since 2002 alone, Canada's commercial seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth.
- Veterinary experts have concluded that all legal methods of hunting in Canada's commercial seal hunt are inherently inhumane, and the slaughter should be ended as a result.
- Climate change poses a threat to ice breeding seal populations, as their sea ice habitat diminishes each year, causing higher mortality rates in seal pups.
- More than 36 nations have prohibited trade in products of commercial sealing for humane and conservation reasons.