Canada government announces massive hunt of 270,000 seals despite global outcry

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Ottawa, Canada
The Canadian government today announced the total allowable catch (TAC) of 270,000 harp seals during the 2007 commercial seal hunt, due to begin in the coming days. The announcement has drawn sharp criticism from conservationists worldwide including researchers with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org), who worry that repeated failure by Canadian officials to properly manage the harp seal hunt as this year’s TAC continues to put the population at increased risk of depletion.
In recent years, the government has set the yearly TAC around 300,000 animals, a number well above the sustainable levels estimated by its own scientists. This year, despite poor ice conditions that could result in 100% natural seal pup mortality, the government is continuing to ignore the scientific evidence provided by its own scientists by setting the TAC at 270,000 animals.
 
IFAW views this year’s decision to maintain a high TAC to be irresponsible as it is set considerably above the number of animals that can be removed without causing the population to continue to decline.
 
“Unfortunately, the Canadian government continues to put politics ahead of science by refusing to adopt a precautionary approach when managing the seal hunt,” said IFAW Senior Researcher Sheryl Fink. “Given the lack of seals due to very high natural mortality this year, it's incredibly disappointing that the Canadian government is moving forward with the hunt – and a hunt for as many as 270,000 seals.“
 
IFAW has continually called on the Canadian government to reduce the number of animals sealers are allowed to kill, especially given the negative impact global warming is having on the harp seal population.
 
“Global warming is seriously jeopardizing the habitat of ice-breeding marine mammals such as harp seals,” said Dr. David Lavigne, world-renowned pinniped expert and IFAW Science Advisor. “Any decision to continue with Canada’s seal hunt must take into account the increased seal mortality caused by global warming,” he added.
 
Canada’s commercial seal hunt is the world’s largest hunt for marine mammals today. Just last year, when government scientists estimated the sustainable yield to be 250,000 harp seals, the TAC was set at 335,000 and the landed catch exceeded 354,000 animals. Of those, 98% were pups under the age of three months.
 
To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit www.stopthesealhunt.org today.

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