Canada Ignores Worldwide Outrage: Inhumane Seal Hunt Starts Today



By: Melissa Cronin

The savage Canadian seal hunt has begun once again, as commercial hunters take to vessels to seek out young seals. The Canadian government allows 400,000 harp seal to be killed, despite court challenges in Europe and renewed backlash from animal advocates who say it is incredibly inhumane and ruthless. The hunt is carried out both for meat and for fur — though animal advocates contend that the fur industry fuels the majority of the demand.

According to Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Canadian wing of Humane Society International, 15 boats will participate in the hunt off the coast of Newfoundland. She noted to CTV News that the market for seal products is closed in the U.S., most of Europe and Russia, because of a World Trade Organization ban on the products. (There is an exemption for Inuit hunters.) Canada’s hunt survives mainly on government subsidies.

“From a market perspective, the seal hunt is very much over,” Aldworth said. “Markets around the world have closed … It’s an industry that’s limping along on credit and subsidies.”

The slaughter, which proponents argue is a tradition that dates back centuries in Inuit culture, targets seals that are about 3 to 4 months old for their meat but more so for their pelts. Many people argue that the approved method for killing — clubbing — is inhumane.

“It will never come back to previous levels,” said Sheryl Fink, wildlife campaigns director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Europeans don’t want products from an inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary industry.”

The Humane Society is leading the charge against the hunt, calling on people to boycott Canadian seafood and seal products, and urge Prime Minister Harper to shut down the industry for good with a federal buyout. You can find out more about efforts to stop the hunt and how you can help here.


2 responses to “Canada Ignores Worldwide Outrage: Inhumane Seal Hunt Starts Today

  1. You forgot to mention that the seal hunt helps protect the thousands of fish species that are being endangered from the over population of seals in the area. Seals are cuter though so they deserve a better chance.

    • That is untrue. The seal hunt is being promoted by the Canadian government as necessary to bring back fish stocks on the eastern seaboard. The cod fisheries were closed down because of years of fisheries mismanagement, and now they must have their scapegoat: The harp and hood seals.

      The DFO’s (Department of Fisheries) position is that the harp seal is a major predator of the cod, therefore, insists seals must die so that the cod populations can increase. Yet, there is no scientific justification for this position. Dr. David Lavigne, the world’s leading authority on harp seals, has created a food-chain chart that illustrates a complex interaction of more than eighty animals and plants existing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. According to Dr. Lavigne, harp seals only utilize young cod for 3 percent of their diet. Of greater concern should be the fact that many of the other fish that comprise the remaining 97 percent of the seals’ diet are themselves predators on young cod. Remove the harp seal, and the return of the cod could be hindered – not helped – by a significant increase in predatory fish hunting for cod. We must remember this is the DFO which is responsible for the mismanagement and ultimate collapse of the cod fishery. Why should we expect them to manage the seals any better? When the first European explorers landed on the East coast of Canada there was no shortage of cod, and there were an estimated 30 million seals. Now, with cod populations at less than 1% of pre-Columbian levels, the seal has become the scapegoat for the excesses of the Canadian and foreign drag trawler fleets that plundered the Grand Banks for decades, and left very little behind.

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