Canadian seal hunt goes ahead despite calls for caution

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Ottawa, Canada
Despite repeated calls for caution based on sound science, conservation and preventing cruelty, the new Canadian government announced today that it is still pushing ahead with one of the highest quotas ever for killing harp seal pups.
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Minister Loyola Hearn released a one-year Total Allowable Catch (TAC) that allows 325,000 seals to be killed this year.

“Unbelievable; with all of the risks already facing the harp seal population this year, the federal government has chosen to raise the quota and allow this unsustainable, unacceptably cruel, so-called hunt to continue,” said Olivier Bonnet, IFAW Canada director.

“Sadly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are playing the same dangerous politics with our wildlife, following in the Liberals’ misguided footsteps. We hoped they would take a more intelligent, conservative approach to the conservation of our marine environment.”

Recent polling shows that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the seal hunt, and yet they are being forced to pay for it through ongoing government subsidies. A 2005 poll found that 69% of Canadians were opposed to the commercial seal hunt, and a further 77% were opposed to it being subsidized.

Many experts were calling for extra caution this year, including a cancellation of the hunt, due to unseasonably warm weather affecting ice conditions off the East coast. More than one million seals were killed during the hunt over the past three years.

“Removing so many animals from one population year after year is putting the species at unnecessary and significant risk of serious depletion,” said Dr. David Lavigne, IFAW Science Advisor and marine mammal expert.

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