Response to The Sunday Mail's Kangaroo Island Penguin Center article

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to comments made by Kangaroo Island’s Penguin Centre owner John Ayliffe, in the article ‘Kangaroo Island may cull New Zealand fur seals to save penguins’, Sunday Mail on 5 May 2012.

Mr Ayliffe’s call for commercial seal hunting to be introduced into Australia as a solution to the perceived ‘overpopulation’ of NZ fur seals is misguided and simplistic. Marine food webs are complex and the removal of a natural predator can often have unintended consequences elsewhere in marine ecosystems.

NZ fur seals were decimated in the 1800s and are still recovering 200 years later. IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) absolutely supports the SA Government’s stance that NZ fur seals must remain protected and that culling is out of the question. Culling is rarely the best means of addressing so-called over population issues and other measures must be investigated if little penguin populations are under threat, and to mitigate farmed fish stock loss.

Indeed it would be good news if as Mr Ayliffe says, "In five years' time we could have 5000 to 10,000 seals hanging around in each of SA's gulfs”. Perhaps the KI Penguin Centre should add visiting the seal colonies to its list of tourist attractions.

Even as a commercial venture, an Australian seal hunt is a bad idea. Mr Ayliffe said seals harvested in the northern hemisphere were part of a viable commercial industry and attempts should be made to develop one locally. Wrong. Canada’s commercial seal hunt is dying with markets worldwide slamming their doors to this inherently cruel, wasteful and unethical practice. 90% of Canada’s seal exports have been shut and even $3.6 million in bailout money from the Newfoundland Government has failed to draw sealers to the hunt so far this year. The world does not want or need products made from Canada’s dead seals so what makes Mr Ayliffe think they would want Australia’s dead seals?

IFAW has been campaigning to end Canada’s seal hunt since 1969 and will continue until this barbaric hunt is finally banned. On 2 May 2012 Canadian Senator Mac Harb formally re-introduced legislation to end the commercial seal hunt in Canada. It is no longer a question of if the seal hunt will end, it’s a question of when.

For further information on all IFAW’s campaigns visit www.ifaw.org

Yours faithfully,

Isabel McCrea
IFAW Regional Director
Sydney

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